Thomas Sankara

1949 - 1987
country of citizenship:  Republic of Upper VoltaBurkina Faso
languages spoken, written or signed:  French
award received:  Order of José Martí
official website:

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (French pronunciation: [tɔmɑ izidɔʁ nɔɛl sɑ̃kaʁa]; 21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabè military officer, Marxist revolutionary and Pan-Africanist who served as President of Burkina Faso from his coup in 1983 to his assassination in 1987. He is viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of the revolution. After being appointed Prime Minister in 1983, disputes with the sitting government led to Sankara's eventual imprisonment. While he was under house arrest, a group of revolutionaries seized power on his behalf in a popularly-supported coup later that year. Aged 33, Sankara became the President of the Republic of Upper Volta and launched social, ecological and economic programmes and renamed the country from the French colonial name Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ('Land of Incorruptible People'), with its people being called Burkinabé ('upright people'). His foreign policies were centred on anti-imperialism and he rejected aid from organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. Sankara welcomed foreign aid from other sources but tried to reduce reliance on aid by boosting domestic revenues and diversifying the sources of assistance.His domestic policies included famine prevention, agrarian self-sufficiency, land reform, and suspending rural poll taxes, as well as a nationwide literacy campaign and vaccinating program against meningitis, yellow fever and measles. His government also focused on building schools, health centres, water reservoirs, and infrastructure projects and he combated desertification of the Sahel by planting over 10 million trees. Moreover, he outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Sankara set up Cuban-inspired Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. He set up Popular Revolutionary Tribunals to prosecute public officials charged with political crimes and corruption, considering such elements of the state counter-revolutionaries. This led to criticism by Amnesty International for human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detentions of political opponents.Sankara’s revolutionary programmes for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa's poverty-stricken nations, and Sankara remained popular with a considerable majority of his country's citizens. Though some of his policies alienated elements of the former ruling class, including the tribal leaders — and the governments of France and its ally, the Ivory Coast. On 15 October 1987, Sankara was assassinated by troops led by Blaise Compaoré, who assumed leadership of the country shortly thereafter. Compaoré retained power until the 2014 Burkina Faso uprising, and in 2021 he was formally charged by a military tribunal for the murder of Sankara. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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