Africa's 'Upright Man'

thomas sankara

Like film stars who die young, Thomas Sankara, president of Burkina Faso, was murdered in a 1987 coup at age 37. Sankara, a revolutionist and Pan-Africanist, transformed the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso, which means, “Land of the Upright People”. He became president in 1983 after an internal power struggle and launched nationalization, land redistribution and grand social programs in one of the world’s poorest countries. During his four-year rule, school attendance leaped from 6% to 22%, more than 2.5 million children were vaccinated and thousands of health centers opened. Housing, road and railway building projects got under way and 10 million trees were planted. Sankara declared war on corruption and embraced personal austerity, paying himself a salary of $450 a month, slashing the wages of his top officials and forbidding the use of chauffeur-driven Mercedes and first class airline tickets by his ministers and senior civil servants. He refused to have his picture displayed in public buildings, and was staunchly opposed foreign aid, declaring: “He who feeds you, controls you.” Learn more about the honorable Thomas Sankara here.

image credit: Thomas Sankara Website