Compiled by Mwalimu George Ngwane

Today 15th October 2010 marks the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Captain Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara, erstwhile President of Upper Volta cum Burkina Faso 1983 – 1987. According to Doug Cooper, the thirty-seven year old Sankara was assassinated with twelve of his aides in a counterrevolutionary military coup by troops loyal to Blaise Compaore. Alongside other Presidential icons in Africa like Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Thomas Sankara’s brief but bright stint as President of Burkina Faso attests to the mantra that leadership is not necessarily the quantity of years we put in but the quality of service we give out.

Hear Thomas Sankara in his own words:

If you take a walk around Ouagadougou and make a list of the mansions you see, you will note that they belong to just a minority. How many of you who have been assigned to Ouagadougou from the farthest corners of the country have had to move every night because you’ve been thrown out of the house you have rented? To those who have acquired houses and land through corruption we say: start to tremble. If you have stolen, tremble, because we will come after you”. March 26, 1983

The basic purpose and main objective of the National Council of the Revolution is to defend the interest of the Voltaic people and fulfill their aspirations toward liberty, genuine independence and economic and social progress”. August 4, 1983

To state it more clearly, we buy more from abroad than we sell. An economy that functions on such a basis is headed for increasing ruin and catastropheOctober 2, 1983

Aid to Burkina Faso must serve to strengthen not undermine, our sovereignty. It should help to destroy the need for further aid. All aid that puts further aid to death is welcome in Burkina Faso. But all aid that creates a beggar mentality, we will have to do without”. August 1984

Any African Head of State who comes to New York must first pass through Harlem. This is why we consider that our White House is in Black Harlem.” October 2, 1984″

We propose that the structures of the UN be changed to put an end to the scandal surrounding the right to vetoOctober 4, 1984

The greatest difficulty we have faced is the neocolonial spirit that exists in this country. We were colonized by a country, France that left us with certain habits. For us, being successful in life, being happy, meant trying to live as they do in France, like the richest of the French.” Marcy 17, 1985

We have to work at decolonizing our mentality and achieving happiness within the limits of sacrifice we should be willing to make. We have to recondition our people to accept themselves as they are, to not be ashamed of their real situation, to be satisfied with it, to glory in it, even1985

“A party has to have structures, leadership and representatives. Who would do this other than those who are there already and who are not necessarily the most combative? All kinds of people would swear by this party in order to be sure of a post, a little bit the way the carving up of government ministries is viewed
.” 1985

We must even put a stop to certain kinds of praise that are poorly disguised and badly controlled expressions of feudal reflexes. This song, for example “oh, Thomas Sankara may he forever be President” is not good”. April 4, 1986

We too are actors in the international arena, and we have the right to choose a political and economic system true to our aspirations. We have the duty to fight for a more just and more peaceful world, regardless of the fact that we have neither large industrial cartels nor nuclear weapons”. August 27, 1987

It is always at the side of a woman that we become men again, and every man is a child for every woman.” March 8, 1987

I have told myself, either I’ll finish up an old man somewhere in a library reading books, or I’ll meet with a violent end, since we have so many enemies. Once you’ve accepted that reality, it’s just a question of time. It will happen today or tomorrow.October 8th, 1987

One week after Thomas Sankara made this last remark, he was murdered but like Don Rojas observed “Thomas Sankara’s murder cannot erase the valuable contributions in both theory and practice he has made to the world’s revolutionary process.”

Homeland or death, we will triumph!

*Quotations are courtesy of the book “Thomas Sankara speaks” by Pathfinder Press (1988)

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  1. Thomas Sankara: In His Own Words
    I never knew about Thomas Sankara up until I saw the documentary about him on ED channel yesterday. This man was a legend and I so wish if can have so many like him and it is so unfortunate how he was killed and worse the person who was involved was his dear friend and I don’t understand how he survive so many years. His spirit will live forever


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