Yesterday, Oct 15, marked 29 years since the world had lost the charismatic leader and hero Thomas Sankara, assassinated in a coup d’é·tat in 1987. Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara was the true definition of a humanist, a Marxist revolutionary, a passionate Pan-Africanist and an unapologetic anti-imperialist who stood for African unity and freedom and a firm feminist and supporter of women rights.

Just within four years leading Burkina Faso, Sankara transformed the nation from being a poor one to a self-reliant, socially progressive and economically independent nation. Here’s a snippet from Sean Jacobs’s article about this hero on the guardian:

“Sankara preached economic self-reliance. He shunned World Bank loans and promoted local food and textile production. Women, the poor and the country’s peasantry benefited mostly from the reforms. Sankara outlawed tribute payments and obligatory labor to village chiefs, abolished rural poll taxes, promoted gender equality in a very male-dominated society (including outlawing female circumcision and polygamy), instituted a massive immunization program, built railways and kick-started public housing construction. His administration aggressively pushed literacy programs, tackled river blindness and embarked on an anti-corruption drive in the civil service.

He discouraged the luxuries that came with government office and encouraged others to do the same. He earned a small salary ($450 a month), refused to have his picture displayed in public buildings, and forbade the uses of chauffeur-driven Mercedes and first class airline tickets by his ministers and senior civil servants.”

Can you phantom how much he would have done to not just Burkina Faso but the whole of Africa if he was allowed to stay for longer? His murder is a tragic loss for the continent, but his ideas will never die and his legacy will always remain alive because as he said, While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.

You can watch a full documentary of the life of Thomas Sankara here and this amazing speech he made against debt in Harlem, New York in 1987.


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