A Marxist and Pan-Africanist, Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara (December 21, 1949- October 15, 1987), was a Burkinabe revolutionary and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance made him an icon to many. Sankara remained popular with most of his country’s citizens. However, his policies alienated and antagonised several groups, which included the small, but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments as well as France and its ally ivory coast.
Thomas Sankara, often called the African Che Guevara, was president of one of the poorest countries in Africa, until his assassination during the military coup that brought down his government. Although his tenure in office was relatively short, Sankara left an indelible mark on his country’s history and development. He outspokenly asserted his country’s independence from France and other Western powers while at the same time seeking to build a genuine pan-African unity. Thomas was murdered by his best friend, Blaise Compaore, with the help of France. Blaise ruled for 27 years but couldn’t do half of what Thomas did in 4 years.
TOP 5 ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THOMAS SANKARA IN BURKINA FASO
- Thomas Sankara renamed the country, formerly called The Republic of Upper Volta (1958-1984) to Burkina Faso (Land of Honest Men) on August 4 1984, and composed the National Anthem.
- Thomas empowered women politically and economically, he also appointed women into his Government.
- He also paused poll taxes for the people of Burkina Faso and redistributed land to poor people.
- He thrashed the backward belief that girls shouldn’t be educated and encouraged girls to stay in school.
- Built roads and railways without foreign aid and reduced literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987.
Thirty two years after his murder, Thomas Sankara whose name vokes pride, pain and anger has been given a fitting memorial with a 5-metre statue in the capital city, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
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