Monday 25 December 2023

Thomas Sankara: “the African Che Guevara” who challenged France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

Thomas Sankara began his political activity in leftist circles secretly in 1974 (Getty)Thomas Sankara, an African military commander and political leader from Burkina Faso, ruled his country for 4 years, during which he made economic and social changes and gained it an international presence in supporting liberation issues.  He was assassinated in 1987 in a military coup that overthrew his rule, and his personality turned into an icon for generations of Africans, and he became known as “the African Che Guevara.”

Origin and formation:

Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara was born on December 21, 1949 in the town of Yako in Burkina Faso, then called “Upper Volta,” into a Catholic family from the lower strata of society.

His father was from the Falan nationality and he fought in World War I, while his mother was from the Musa nationality, and he was third in line among 11 brothers and sisters.

Study and scientific training:

After completing primary and middle school in Ouagadougou, he joined the military preparatory high school in the city, contrary to his family’s ambitions, which were nominating him to receive religious training to become a priest. He excelled at this stage with his academic excellence and high athletic skills.

In his twenties, he traveled on study missions as part of his military training to both Madagascar and Cameroon, and in Madagascar he witnessed the events of a revolution of workers and students that overthrew the government.

In the early seventies, he joined the Paratroopers Training Center in France, and took advantage of his presence there to initiate contacts with African organizations and African students with Marxist revolutionary tendencies.

Military and political experience:

Starting in 1974, Sankara began to be secretly active in leftist opposition circles, including unions, in parallel with his gradual promotion in the ranks of the army and assuming military responsibilities. His name emerged in a short military confrontation with neighboring Mali after a border dispute between the two countries, and he began to acquire the image of a national hero.  Then, in 1976, he assumed leadership of the National Center for Commando Training.

Between January and May 1978, he resided in Morocco as part of a military formation at the Paratroopers Training Center, where he was alongside his comrade Blaise Compaore (who would later turn against him). They founded, along with other officers, the “Communist Officers Group.”

The political and economic conditions in this poor country were deteriorating with the establishment of a one-party system in the country since November 1975, and the spread of corruption, political unrest, and coups.

In February 1981, he was promoted to the rank of captain and appointed commander of the Operations Division in the General Staff. In the same year, he entered the government as a state secretary in charge of communications, but he soon resigned as anger escalated over the repressive nature of President Sayi Zerbo’s regime, and he was thrown into prison with some of his companions.

On November 7, 1982, the country witnessed a new coup that overthrew Colonel Zerbo, followed by Jean-Baptiste and Drago, and Sankara was appointed Prime Minister in January 1983.

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