Africa; the land of kings, queens and warriors has birthed some of the world's most charismatic and we are about to read about one. One who didn't only play a harp with the gods but dined with them as well.
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara, africa's very own "Che Guevara".
In 1983, 33 years old Sankara became the President of the Republic of Upper Volta. Immediately after he assumed power, Sankara launched programmes for ecological, economic and social change and renamed his country, then the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ("Land of Incorruptible People") with its people being called Burkinabé ("upright people"). He won the respect and admiration of every African patriot by formulating foreign policies that centred on anti-imperialism with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth and averting the power and influence of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritising education with a nationwide literacy campaign.
However, there are a few things about the most loved man who was ironically "slain" by his "brother" that you definitely don't know. bellow are a few of those few things.
After basic military training in secondary school in 1966, Sankara began his military career at the age of 19 and a year later was sent to Madagascar for officer training at Antsirabe where he witnessed popular uprisings in 1971 and 1972 against the government of Philibert Tsiranana and first read the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin; profoundly influencing his political views for the rest of his life.
Returning to Upper Volta in 1972, he fought in a border war between Upper Volta and Mali by 1974. He earned fame for his heroic performance in the border war with Mali but years later would renounce the war as "useless and unjust"; a reflection of his growing political consciousness. He also became a popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. Sankara was a decent guitarist. He played in a band named "Tout-à-Coup Jazz" and rode a motorcycle.
In 1982, more than a hundred soldiers planned to overthrow the government of Saye Zerbo; the Military Committee for the Recovery of National Progress CMRPN. The men agreed prior to the overthrow of Saye that Thomas Sankara should be president because "he was politically equipped" for this as he had been Secretary of State for Information in Saye Zerbo’s government before resigning. Shockingly, Sankara after the revolution refused to take the highest seat of the land claiming he was "not equipped" enough for that office. Instead, he proposed Colonel Yorian Gabriel Somé in order to maintain cohesion among the military, but the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces was not in agreement. Sankara then proposed appointing as interim president the most senior member of our group’s highest ranking officers; Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. An act of honor and selflessness.
Amazingly, Thomas Sankara only became Prime minister in Ouédraogo's government in January 1983 due to undue pressure from those who supported him. The people knew Sankara will make many positive changes if he were in government so they presssured both Sankara and the government to appoint him and he was eventually appointed and very quickly, differences emerged.
The People’s Salvation Council [CSP] had defined five objectives over two years: the reorganization of the armed forces and the State apparatus, the establishment of true social justice, the guarantee of individual and collective freedoms with respect for human rights, the promotion of economic, social and cultural development, and the path towards normal constitutional life. unfortunately, Thomas Sankara was dismissed by the government in May 1993 shortly before the overthrow of Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo by pro-Sankara forces led by Blaise Compaoré on the 4th of August and his official removal from his post as Minister of National Defence by Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani on the 23rd Day of August 1983. Sankara however became the first president of the country on August 4th 1983.
Sankara was known to have secretly arranged visits for ex Lybian president; Muammar Gaddafi who was a very good friend of his to the Upper Volta. The two ochestrated plans to make Africa a single prosperous and united nation.
Even though Sanakara Improved women's status in the Burkinabé society banned female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, he was also not very popular among the Mossi ethnic group. The Mossi are the most populous ethnic group in Burkina Faso, and they adhere to strict traditional hierarchical social systems. At the top of the hierarchy is the Morho Naba, the chief or king of the Mossi people. Sankara viewed the institution as an obstacle to national unity and proceeded to demote the Mossi elites. The Morho Naba was not allowed to hold courts, and local village chiefs were stripped off their executive powers and given to the CDR.
On 15 October 1987, Sankara was killed by an armed group with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organized by his former colleague Blaise Compaoré; a man he called his brother. In an account for the overthrow, Compaoré stated that Sankara jeopardized foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast and accused his former comrade of plotting to assassinate opponents.
After years of rest beneath mother Earth, Thomas Sankara is still seen and revered by many as the greatest, most charismatic, enthusiastic and patriotic revolutionist Africa ever birthed and many are also of the view that he deserves a modern statue at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Do you think he deserves a statue in Addis Ababa? let the world know in the comments section.
Statue of Kwame Nkrumah, at the headquarters of the African Union
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