Sankara’s Legacy: 30 Years on, Africa still needs More Upright Men!!!

By Mainda Simataa, General Secretary of the Economic Liberation Association (Zambia), 2017-10-16,





The Revolutionary trailblazer:


Few African leaders, especially those with a military background, have ever truly lived and died for the cause of economically and socially improving the lot of the poor and oppressed masses as Sankara did; not only in word, but in deed…and even in death!


Sankara loved and devoted his heart and soul to the people. He was a rare combination of an intelligent and charismatic military man imbued with a revolutionary political and ideological consciousness. He used the gun, but to one end alone – to bring social and economic justice, peace and prosperity to a country ravaged, corrupted and mercilessly plundered by henchmen of its former colonizer – France. Sankara overthrew and the black puppet regime in a bloodless coup in 1983.


Five years later, on the 15th of October 1987, Thomas Sankara, President and militant revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was himself overthrown and assassinated in a bloody coup instigated and sponsored by the French imperialist regime which used the traitor Blaise Compaore, (once Sankara’s own comrade in arms in the military) as a pawn in their never ending scheme to re-dominate and continue the exploitation of that nation’s resources…and they did so, and still do so today.


But the legacy and revolutionary ideals Sankara left, can never be erased! 27 years later, Compaore the traitor was to be overthrown and sent into exile by Sankara’s idea’s which had brewed and exploded in the post Sankara young generation of the Burkinabe people!


What Made Sankara Special to the Burkinabe and Africans at Large?


Sankara’s very first act when he took over from the local pro-French puppet regime was to change the countries’ name from French Upper-Volta, to Burkina Faso – which literally means Land of Upright Man!


The agenda behind the name change was a game-changer! It had the following objectives: first, to declare full autonomy and independence of the Burkinabe from the French; and second, to rid the nation of all the corrupt elements and acts of the nations’ pro-capitalist class: among them Feudal  land Lords who exploited peasants, the Chiefs who demanded tributes from the poor, the comprado bourgeoisie, the intellectual upper and middle class Africans who maintained, oiled and benefited from the French corporations and institutions that exploited the nations’ natural and human resources.


Radical 360 Degree Shift in Policies


Upon seizing political power, Sankara immediately set out to implement the boldest and most radical social and economic changes ever attempted on the African continent in the shortest period of time:


  1. Cancelled all IMF/foreign loans, denounced foreign aid and pushed for debt reduction!
  2. Nationalized all Land and mineral resources!
  3. Embarked on agriculture reforms for self-sustenance and food security!
  4. Introduced massive literacy and healthcare programs for all!
  5. Cancelled all oppressive and unnecessary taxes!
  6. Doubled wheat (staple food) production by expropriating and re-distributing land from feudal landlords to the peasant farmers!
  7. Encouraged the people to build schools, hospitals, roads and railroads with their own labour!
  8. Promoted women’s’ rights; banning genital mutilation, forced marriages, polygamy, and encouraging women to learn and work!
  9. Pushed for Pan-Africanism and true economic liberation!
  10. Denounced the scourge of imperialism and neo-colonialism in underdeveloped countries!


Sankara Shining Legacy


Having done so much in so little time, Sankara’s legacy spread far and wide, with world leading revolutionaries like Fidel Castro of Cuba honouring him in life and in death. Many consider Sankara the most outstanding African revolutionary leader to ever set stage on the African continent, having never used his position as national leader and military commander leader to oppress, but rather to liberate. Never did he look for his own material benefit, but rather, he looked out for the material good and well-being of the nation.


Dead but Never Gone nor forgotten


Sankara is Africa’s own revolutionary martyr, joining the ranks of Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba and many other revolutionaries who have died for the cause of liberation and economic and social justice for the people. Sankara’s popularity and influence on modern revolutionaries continues to inspire confidence and even rebellion against oppressive regimes the continent over. His Ghost lives on!


Sankara, the Upright Man


In the final analysis, Sankara was and still is the quintessential upright man he set his nation out to be, having practiced what he preached, living for the people, taking nothing from them, but giving everything he had, including his own life in the end.


Sankara has thus laid down the path for modern African freedom fighters to follow and emulate, and he set the bar so high. The best that all African freedom fighters can do, is to try and fulfill the cause he lived for, and as we do so, to try and be Upright men – free of compromise, corruption and self-seeking motives. We must stand tall, stand together, and stand strong in the face of all adversity and hardships! Victory will be ours! Africa needs more Upright Men!


Long Live Sankara!


Long Live the African Revolution!


Aluta Continua!