In my opinion Thomas Sankara is Africa's greatest President. When people usually talk about Africa's great leaders Nelson Mandela usually comes to most people mind, But I think he is a bit overrated and I know a lot of people are gonna get mad but that's just my opinion. I am not saying he didn't do great things for South Africa he did obviously. So who was Thomas Sankara?
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”
He wanted the resources of Burkina Faso to benefit majority of his fellow countrymen and women. After his assassination, Burkina Faso has never been the same. A captain in the Upper Volta Air Force, he was trained as a pilot. He was a very popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. The fact that was he was a decent guitarist and liked motorbikes may have contributed to his charisma. 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 d'Etat 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".
As a President he achieved the following:
1. He renamed his country which was formally named as ''upper volta'' by France into "Burkina Faso" which means "Land of the upright people" in More' and Djula, the two major languages of the country.
2. He vaccinated 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles in a matter of less than 2 weeks.
3. He planted over 10 million trees to prevent desertification
4. He built roads and a railway to tie the nation together, without foreign aid
5. Uncommon at the time he lived, Sankara stressed women empowerment and campaigned for the dignity of women in a traditional patriarchal society. He employed women in several government positions and declared a day of solidarity with housewives by mandating their husbands to take on their roles for 24 hours.
6. He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers.
7. He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets.
8. He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making Burkina Faso which was at that time one of the poorest countries in the world food self-sufficient.
9. He opposed foreign aid, saying that “he who feeds you, controls you.”
10. An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself
11. Sankara preached self reliance, he banned the importation of several items into Burkina Faso, and encouraged the growth of the local industry.
12. In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army’s provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country).
13. He increased Burkina Faso's literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987.
Here are some of his quotes
1. “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”.
2. “I want people to remember me as someone whose life has been helpful to humanity”.
3. “Our country produces enough to feed us all. Alas, for lack of organization, we are forced to beg for food aid. It’s this aid that instills in our spirits the attitude of beggars”.
4. “We are not against progress, but we do not want progress that is anarchic and criminally neglects the rights of others”.
5. "We have to work at decolonizing our mentality and achieving happiness within the limits of sacrifice we should be willing to make. We have to recondition our people to accept themselves as they are, to not be ashamed of their real situation, to be satisfied with it, to glory in it, even"
6. "The enemies of a people are those who keep them ignorance"
7. "When the people stand up, imperialism trembles"
On 15 October 1987, Sankara was killed by an armed group with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organised by his former colleague Blaise Compaoré(Some people belive he was assisted by France). When asked Compaoré stated that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France. Compaoré immediately became president and removed policies made by sankara. He also rejoined the IMF and World Bank and ruled burkina faso for 27 years until he was removed in 2014 by the military and charged with the assassination of Thomas sankara.