Thomas Sankara 'Africa's Che Guevara’

Captain Thomas Sankara was the leader of the Burkinabe Revolution. In the former Upper Volta known today as Burkina Faso. The revolution was launched to enable the country "to accept the responsibility of its reality and its destiny with human dignity". Born in Yako, Upper Volta now Burkina Faso,on December 21,1949 Sankara was a charismatic left‑leaning leader in West Africa. He was considered to be an "African Che Guevara". A captain in the Upper Volta Air Force, he was trained as a pilot and was a very popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. Sankara was appointed Secretary of State for Information in 1981 and became Prime minister in 1983. He was jailed the same year after a visit by Jean‑Christophe Mitterrand ; this caused a popular uprising.

A coup d'Etat organized by Blaise Compaore made Sankara President on August 4, 1983, at the age of 33. The coup was supported by Libya which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad .

Sankara saw himself as a revolutionary and was inspired by Cuba and Ghana's military leader, Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings. As president, he promoted the "Democratic and Popular Revolution" (RDP Revolution Democratique et Populaire). His government included large number of women. His policy was oriented toward fighting corruption, reforestation, averting famine, and making education and health real priorities. Improving women's status was one of Sankara's explicit goals, that was unprecedented in West Africa. His government banned female circumcision, condemned polygamy, and promoted contraception.
The Burkinabe government was also the first African government to claim that AIDS was a major threat for Africa.

In 1984, on the first anniversary of his accession, he renamed the country Burkina Faso, meaning "the land of upright people" in Mossi and Dyula, the two major languages of the country. He also gave it a new flag and wrote a new national anthem.

On October 15, 1987 Sankara was killed by his former colleague Blaise Compaore.

A week prior to his death Sankara addressed people and said that "while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”


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