Thomas Sankara: one of Africa’s greatest presidents and leaders
Will you be willing to sacrifice your life for your people? Will you be willing to sacrifice your possessions and wealth for more justice and equity in this world? This question is insignificant, but it does reveal who is an honest man.
Thomas Sankara, charismatic leader, visionary despite his time, gives lessons to all the presidents of the earth, because he knew how to give his life for his people, not for his personal interests (villa, power, women, personal wealth), but for the good of all. In my opinion, he will remain one of Africa’s greatest leaders and presidents.
In a world where individualism, materialism, selfishness rage. Courageous men are born and die for just causes. When a good man blessed by God comes to power, the voice of the people is finally heard. But when men with dark hearts succeed, it is the bump and corruption that prevails. A family eats while the whole people die in poverty. And, we are all witnesses to a world that is drifting away. If we look at the whole world, who can we name as president who died for the good of his people, by pure personal disinterest? Not many people, that is why our lives have become so unfair, corrupt and the people are dying, misunderstood in poverty. If people took the time to choose a man according to his heart, his values, his actions and not according to appearances (the fortune and the name he has), our lives would be better for all of us.
As Thomas Sankara correctly quotes:
Because of all human races, we belong to those who have suffered most, we have sworn to never again accept on any part of this earth the slightest denial of justice. »
When we read the Bible, we see it clearly, when a man of God comes to power with a noble and humble heart, life is much more beautiful and just for all. Of course, no man is perfect, but by fighting against sin, we become better men.
In this article, I will explain why, in my opinion or in the opinion of others, Thomas Sankara will remain in the memories of the collective conscience as one of the greatest presidents in Africa. A man to be inspired and respected despite some of these clumsinesses. A man who walked beyond time, a visionary who did not look at today, but at the future for his people and for all Africa. A man whose many presidents must salute his courage, sacrifice and actions. An African cheerleader who knew how to transform his words into action for the good of all.
Thomas Sankara :
Woe to those who gag the people! »
Birth of hero Sankara.
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was born on December 21, 1949 in Yako into a modest Christian family of 14 children. He was a “Peul-Mossi”, who never forgot where he came from. His father was a veteran and prisoner of war of the Second World War. His mother, Marguerite, died on March 6, 2000. A workaholic, he was always a good student throughout his schooling, in French and mathematics. A good jazz guitarist, he was passionate about motorcycling.
At the age of 19, after high school in Bobo-Dioulasso, Thomas Sankara embarked on a military career, whereas his parents had intended him more for the seminary. He was sent to Madagascar to continue his officer training and in 1976 became commander of the Po commando centre. At the same time, during his training, he was interested in economics, sociology and journalism by managing the newspaper of the military academy.
Following the uprisings and revolts of the Malagasy people against the neo-colonial regime in 1971/1972, he became aware of the danger of neo-colonialism. More and more, inspired by Marx, Patrice Lumumba, Nkwame Nkrumah, thoughts of justice, of equity nourish his ideas of revolution.
In 1972, he returned to Upper Volta (former name of Burkina Faso) and participated in the war against Mali. He then left for France, then Morocco where he met Blaise Compaoré in 1976. The two men quickly became friends, considering themselves as “brothers”. Together with Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, they will form the ROC (Regroupement d’Officiers Communistes).
It should be pointed out that at the beginning, in the 1980s, Upper Volta, a former French colony, was going through a serious crisis in public finances, coupled with a political crisis. The majority of the population lives in poverty and many regimes follow one another, but do not question the neo-colonial system. The Upper Volta was one of the poorest countries in the world at that time.
Political life of Thomas Sankara.
In the spring of 1981, he was appointed Secretary of State for Information by the government of Colonel Saye Zerbo. Humble and simple, he cycled to the first cabinet meeting. Very quickly, he changed mentalities. Aware that the government did not listen to the voice of the people and strong in its convictions, it decided to resign on 21 April 1982 by declaring: “Woe to those who want to silence the people”.
Following a coup d’état on 7 November 1982, Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo was in power. He made Thomas Sankara his Prime Minister in January 1983. With clear-cut ideas, Sankara made a virulent speech against neo-colonialism at the top of the “non-aligned” New Delhi. Following the dissatisfaction of the French advisors to African affairs, Thomas Sankara was imprisoned by Ouedraogo on 17 May 1983. But, his friend Blaise Compaoré organized a coup d’état on August 4, 1983, and freed him.
Quite naturally, Thomas Sankara took power and became president for 4 long years. Free thinker, charismatic leader, sociologist, philosopher, economist and politician, the Sankara revolution is on the march. Among his first decrees, on August 4, 1984, Thomas Sankara changed the name of the country to “Upper Volta” given by the settlers, to Burkina Faso, which means “the country of honest men.”
Then he sells all the government members’ luxury cars and replaces them with Renault 5s, cars that consume less fuel. Because he understood very quickly that the love of money is the root of all evils.
He wants Burkinabe people to consume locally. He will ask his people to abandon Western costumes in the administrations to wear Faso Fani, traditional cotton clothing “made in Burkina Faso”. »
Policy of emancipation of the Burkinabe people with a revolutionary program:
President Sankara wanted to embody renewal. He wanted his country to be a country of honest, autonomous and economically independent men. Hence the quote “Burkina Faso’s production and consumption”.
Voici le programme et les actions révolutionnaire de son mandat.
- Fight corruption.
Well aware that corruption is a real scourge in Africa. He is engaged in a fierce fight against corruption in the civil service, which results in trials broadcast on the radio, but without a death sentence.
It requires public servants to declare their assets.
He fights against the traditional unequal Burkinabe society by weakening the power of tribal leaders.
- Improve education.
Il favorise l’éducation et lutte contre l’analphabétisme, qui serait passé pour les hommes de 95 % à 80 %, et pour les femmes de 99 % à 98 %.
Il se battait en faveur d’une éducation pour tous dans un pays classé parmi les plus pauvres du monde.
Il fait construire de nombreuses écoles.
- Fight against substandard housing.
He began a major housing construction programme and decreed that rents would be free throughout 1985. It has also renovated rail transport.
On the criterion “one household, one household”, it imposes the subdivision of parcels in the city.
- Improve the health of the inhabitants.
In order to combat infant mortality and increase the life expectancy of the population, which was 40 years old. It implements several measures.
- Implementation of a major vaccination campaign for children.
- Construction of several hospitals in the country.
- Massive construction by the CDRs of wells and water reservoirs.
- Promotion of a national economy.
It plans the development and transformation of local production.
- Agricultural reform and the importance of the environment.
Well aware of the place of the environment and agriculture in his country. It is implementing major reforms:
- Redistribution of land to farmers, with higher prices and the abolition of agricultural taxes.
Abolition of the per capita tax for farmers.
- Implementation of a campaign to reforest the Sahel by planting millions of trees to stop the desert from advancing. That is, it establishes the custom of planting a tree at every major occasion to combat desertification.
- In April 1985, he fought against the abusive cutting of wood, accompanied by awareness campaigns for the development of the use of gas for cooking, the fight against bush fires and the fight against the divagation of animals.
- Implementation of dam projects..
- A better status for women.
Thomas Sankara wants a better status for women who are derived in several points:
- Prohibition of FGC.
- Condemnation of polygamy.
- Enable women to participate in political life. He put his words into practice by appointing several women to his government.
- March 8, 1984 will become a public holiday for men, because the president wants men to go to the market and cook themselves in order to become aware of the female condition.
In a beautiful quote, he says:” There is no real social revolution until women are liberated. May my eyes never see a society where half the people are kept silent. I hear the noise of this silence from the women, I sense the rumbling of their gust, I feel the fury of their revolt. I await and hope for the fruitful eruption of the revolution, whose strength and rigorous accuracy they will reflect from their entrails of the oppressed.. »
- Independence from colonial countries.
Thomas Sankara wants his country to be totally independent, so we must stop being assisted. He criticizes the IMF and international monetary institutions by strongly denouncing the neo-colonization and debt of Africans. He wishes to definitively free himself from French control, which he strongly suspects is the reason for his arrest.
At an OAU summit in Addis Ababa, he will say, “I say that Africans must not pay the debt. Anyone who disagrees can go out right now, get on a plane and go to the World Bank to pay. »
He explains again: « As long as there is oppression and exploitation, there will always be two justices and two democracies: that of the oppressors and that of the oppressed, that of the exploiters and that of the exploited. »
« Colonial looting decimated our forests without the slightest reparative thought for our future. »
« The spirit of freedom, dignity, self-reliance, independence and anti-imperialist struggle must flow from North to South, South to North and cross borders happily. Especially since African peoples suffer the same miseries, have the same feelings, dream of the same better future. »
The mistakes of a president.
Too visionary despite his time, with his authoritarian and impetuous character, he encountered the misunderstanding of many people, who wanted to keep their habits and customs. In trying to force civil servants to participate in construction sites, he came up against political parties and trade unions.
It has also made mistakes by replacing more than 2,600 teachers with low-skilled “revolutionaries”. He also lacked foresight in creating militias that will eventually create insecurity.
Moreover, he gets lost when he locks up his opponents and gags the freedom of speech of the press.
On the 4th anniversary of the revolution, Sankara will acknowledge his mistakes, and decide to change some aspects of the revolution. Hence the sentence:”I would rather take a step with the people than a hundred without the people. »
Death and murder of a leader unlike any other.
His stand against neo-colonialism and his ideas of revolution would make Thomas Sankara a man to be shot. Jealous of his popularity and the hope he gives to African youth, his enemies will set up a plot to silence him forever. But God is great, a good man and his ideas will forever mark history and time and his name will not be erased.
His enemies will use the ex-friend Compaoré to get rid of Thomas Sankara… Unlike Sankara, Blaise Compaoré loves luxury and shows it very well. By marrying a member of Houphoüet-Boigny’s family, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, he withdrew from his friend and his ideas of revolution. On October 15, 1987, Thomas Sankara was murdered at the age of 37, during a coup d’état organized by the man who was considered his friend, his brother, Blaise Compaoré.
More precisely, on 15 October, Thomas Sankara was in a meeting with advisers at NRC headquarters when the sounds of automatic weapons were heard. During a coup d’état, he was shot by a commando with many advisors. Buried in haste, and almost anonymously, he was betrayed by his friend, his brother, Blaise Compaoré, according to survivors of the shooting. Several days later, he was declared “natural death” by a military doctor. The absence of any trial or investigation by the Burkinabe government was condemned in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Committee.
After the dismissal of Blaise Campaoré, an autopsy was carried out on Thomas Sankara’s body five months after Compaoré’s overthrow. The results of the autopsy and ballistics examination carried out on his body revealed that he had been shot dead with more than a dozen bullets on 15 October 1987. The family of the “father of the revolution” is happy to get closer to the truth, finally.
Independence, responsibility, pride, Thomas Sankara dreams of a strong Africa, which raises its head and takes itself in hand thanks to the power of the people. He will forever remain an iconic figure and a great African leader. We will end with some of these quotes:
The most important thing, I believe, is to have led the people to have confidence in themselves, to understand that, finally, they can sit down and write their development; they can sit down and write their happiness; they can say what they want. And at the same time, feel the price to pay for this happiness.” (April 4, 1986)
The spirit of freedom, dignity, self-reliance, independence and anti-imperialist struggle must flow from North to South, from South to North and cross borders happily. Especially since African peoples suffer the same miseries, have the same feelings, dream of the same better future. ” (August 1984)
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