Human & Rousseau

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Author Focus

Thomas Sankara

Biographical info

Thomas Sankara was a military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, feminist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara" and believed in Africa's self-reliance. Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33. He immediately launched one of the most ambitious programmes for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. His foreign policies were centred on anti-imperialism. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritising education with a nationwide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children. His revolutionary programmes for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa's poor. However, his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class. As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on 15 October 1987.

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