Remembering Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara


On 15 October 1987, Burkina Faso’s first president, Thomas Sankara, was killed by an armed group alongside 12 other officials in a coup d’état organized by his former colleague, Blaise Compaoré. Sankara’s body was dismembered and buried in an unmarked grave while his widow and two children fled the country.⠀

As president, Sankara’s policies were oriented toward fighting corruption, promoting reforestation, promoting women’s empowerment, averting famine and making education and health national priorities. He even withdrew Burkina Faso from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.⠀

When Compaoré took over, he overturned nearly all of Sankara’s policies, reversed the nationalizations, rejoined the IMF and World Bank and ultimately rejected most of Sankara’s legacy. Compaoré remained in power for 27 years until he was overthrown by protests in 2014.⠀

Although Sankara—who was 33 years old when he became president—was murdered at the young age of 37, he continues to be remembered as a martyr of Pan-Africanism. Thomas Sankara once said, ‘While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas’.⠀

Credit, Republic Journal
📝: Adams x Tomisin, Editorial Interns⠀
📷: President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso speaking at a press conference. 04 October 1984. UN Photo/Milton Grant

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