Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military officer and socialist revolutionary. He served as the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. A Marxist–Leninist and pan-Africanist, he was viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution.
About Thomas Sankara in brief
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military officer and socialist revolutionary. He served as the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. A Marxist–Leninist and pan-Africanist, he was viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution. He was assassinated by troops led by Blaise Compaoré, who assumed leadership of the state shortly after having Sanksara killed. His policies were centred on anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction and nationalising all land and mineral wealth. He outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. His revolutionary programmes for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa’s poor. However, his policies alienated and antagonised several groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinsabé middle class; the tribal leaders who were stripped of their long-held traditional privileges of forced labour and tribute payments; and the governments of France and its ally the Ivory Coast. He is sometimes referred to as ‘Africa’s Che Guevara’ or ‘‘“Africa’s Che Che’’. His father was a gendarme and mother was of mixed Mossi–Fulani and Mossi descent. He spent his early years in Gaoua, a town in the humid southwest to which his father was transferred as an auxiliary gendarmes.
As the son of one of the few African functionaries then employed by the colonial state, he enjoyed a relatively privileged position. He went to church often, and impressed with his energy and eagerness to learn, some priests encouraged him to go on to seminary school once he finished primary school. Despite initially agreeing, he took the exam required for entry to the secular educational system and passed the sixth grade. His decision to continue his education at the nearest lycée proved to be a turning point in his life. His parents wanted him to become a Roman Catholic priest, but he chose to enter the military instead. He made close friends, including Fèidè Fèdè, whom he later named a minister in his government; and Soumane Touré, a military officer who was in more advanced class and later became a government minister. He died of a heart attack at the age of 48 in October 1987, aged 49. He leaves behind a wife and three children. He also leaves a son, a daughter and a son-in-law, who is now a politician and a university professor. He has a daughter, a son and two step-daughters, who are all of the same generation as he was when he died in 1987. He had no children of his own and is survived by his wife and a daughter-in law, who he married in 1994. He never married again.