Thomas Sankara, who served as the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, and a pan-Africanist theorist. Sankara staged a popularly supported coup in 1983 to eradicate corruption and break the stronghold of the former French colonial power. Following his rise to power, he initiated an incredibly bold and far-reaching agenda for social and economic transformation, which was among the most ambitious ever seen in Africa.
Sankara's foreign policies were driven by anti- imperialism, with his administration rejecting all foreign aid, advocating for odious debt relief, nationalizing all land and mineral resources, and countering the influence and authority of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Domestically, his policies were geared towards averting famine through agricultural self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education through a nationwide literacy campaign, and improving public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against diseases such as meningitis, yellow fever, and measles.
Additionally, his national program involved planting more than ten million trees to combat the desertification of the Sahel, increasing wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, abolishing rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and launching an ambitious program of road and rail construction to "unify the nation."
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