AFRICA’S CHE GUEVARA
You may not have heard of a country called Burkina Faso, but the country raised one of the most charismatic revolutionaries in the history. Thomas Sankara – the first president of Burkina Faso – is often regarded as Africa’s Che Guevara. Reading about his life, you can decide for yourself whether he earned this nickname or not.
He was born in 1949 in Yako, French Upper Volta. His family became unusually crowded as his mother gave birth to another seven children (they were 10 siblings in total). Because his father was a gendarme in Gaoua, his family was among the privileged people of the society.
His favorite subjects at school were mathematics, French and religious studies. His parents were Roman Catholics who always wanted him to be a priest, but he insisted on joining the military. He easily impressed his teachers with his brightness and eagerness. This passion continued when he went to Madagascar to pursue further military education.
Back in Upper Volta, he continued gaining sympathy and attention for his bravery during the war with Mali. He was appointed as the commander of the Commando Training Centre in Po. He was also part of the Communist Officers Group that secretly started intervening the government.
Burkina Faso Given Back To The Community
The earlier 1980s witnessed a chain of military coups. When Sankara was the Secretary of State for Information during the military government of 81, he became the Prime Minister after a second coup although this was short-lived.
A third military coup organized by Blaise Compaore (with whom he met earlier during his time in military), he became the President at a very young age of 33.
He was greatly inspired by distinguished revolutionists such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara. He named the country Burkina Faso, “the land of upright people”. Perhaps, this was a foreshadowing of the services he was going to do for the country.
He worked towards creating a self-sustainable society in terms of agriculture by taking lands back from feudal lords and distributing amongst the peasantry. In four years, there had been a drastic increase in cotton and wheat production even beyond the limit of self-reliance.
He also tried to implement novel cultivation protocols at farms for higher quality and quantity. The standard of living for an average citizen increased. Health care was among his plans as well. People benefited from mass vaccinations programs for diseases such as polio, meningitis and measles. He also recognized AIDS as a major threat and worked on taking precautions.
Female genital mutilation and forced marriages were strictly prohibited. Women were encouraged to enroll in jobs while men were encouraged to help women at home. He cared not only for humans but also for other beings. It was during his time that several million trees were planted.
New factories were built for infrastructure projects, aiming to place more people in a decent home environment. Rail roads were built across the country for the first time. Education programs were launched to increase the country’s literacy rate although it was often met with protests and strikes.
The laws were shifted in the favor of the people. People’s Revolutionary Tribunals was founded to host trials of former government officials and criminals while the participants could watch. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution was founded as a counter-balance to the army.
All of this was done in only six years. In 1987, the government was overthrown by Blaise Compaore – the same person who brought Sankara to power in the first place. Sankara was assassinated for allegedly violating the foreign relations and posing a threat to the countries affairs with France and neighbouring countries.
After Sankara’s death, 27 years of dictatorship by Compaore followed. During those years, almost everything Sankara had done was reversed in an attempt to erase his legacy.
According to report’s the family wasn’t allowed to see the body of Sankara then, so an autopsy and exhumation were only performed after Compaore’s rule ended in 2014…
To date Burkinabes continue to seek for the truth about Thomas Sankara’s death. The question is who assassinated Thomas Sankara Africa’s Che Guevara?
Credit: Ghana Education/History/Schooling In Ghana/Research/FVV/First hand Info/