All around the world, nations have been blessed with characters of valor, worthy of emulation; people who are nothing less than gifts to humanity. The unfortunate thing about this is that very often it appears as though African heroes are ‘uncelebrated’ and remembered less. They are forgotten while alive how much more the minute they are no longer with us. In the absence of stumbling on history in schools, little or nothing will be known about some notable people in history that we ought to know like the palm of our hands.
Late last year Burkina Faso was all over the news for all the political tussle that you can imagine. The nation has battled with their president who has been in power since 1987. Blais Compaore toppled the government of Thomas Sankara and seized power from then on till December 2015, when he reluctantly stepped down from the position. Coupled with the fact that he was charged to court for the assassination of his comrade and Burkina Faso’s Head of State, Capt Thomas Sankara.
So who was/is Thomas Sankara? As Mandela is to South Africa, so also is Thomas to Burkina Faso. At 33 Thomas Sankara, the son of a World War II veteran had become Burkina Faso’s president. From “Upper Volta”, he changed the nation’s name to Burkina Faso- meaning the Land of Upright Men. He was a “marxist” revolutionary, Pan- Africanist and incredibly loved by the people. Often called the ‘Che Guevara’ of Africa, he toppled a controversial tyrant and assumed power in 1983, serving for 4 years till his assassination on 15 October 1987.
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara is a one of a kind personality in the history and record of African presidents. By his steps and actions he was not just president but acted like a father to Burkinabes. In very daunting ways, he displayed love, a spirit of sacrifice and true leadership for his people. In few years of his reign, he drastically turned the economic and general outlook of the country for the better; earned $450 a month; self-effacement was his motto; he promoted hard work and self-sufficiency in his administration; he advocated for women empowerment, thus abolishing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and polygamy; he revolutionized health and education sectors, especially in remote parts of the country.
- Without patriotic political education, a soldier is only a potential criminal.
- It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.
- Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus, the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them.
- I can hear the roar of women’s silence.
- He who feeds you, controls you.
- 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.
- Everything that man can imagine, he is capable of creating.
- The spirit is smothered, as it were, by ignorance, but so soon as ignorance is destroyed, spirit shine forth, like the sun when released from clouds.
- Imperialism is a system of exploitation that occurs not only in the brutal form of those who come with guns to conquer territory. Imperialism often occurs in more subtle forms, a loan, food aid, blackmail. We are fighting this system that allows a handful of men on earth to rule all of humanity.
- The enemies of a people are those who keep them in ignorance.
- We must learn to live the African way. It’s the only way to live in freedom and with dignity.
- Che Guevara taught us we could dare to have confidence in ourselves; confidence in our abilities. He instilled in us the conviction that struggle is our only recourse. He, was a citizen of the free world that together we are in the process of building. That is why we say that Che Guevara is also African and Burkinabe.