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News > Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso Remembers Death of Socialist President Sankara

  • Socialist President Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso.

    Socialist President Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso. | Photo: Twitter/ @France24_en

Published 15 October 2021

During his 4-year government, Sankara built 350 schools and developed a mass literacy campaign, which increased Burkina Faso’s literacy rate by 60 percent

On Friday, Burkina Faso’s people remember the murder of revolutionary leader and socialist President Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), who defended respect for the environment, pan-Africanism, women’s rights, and the self-reliance of his country.


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Sankara came to power through a revolutionary movement that received broad popular support. From a perspective of national renewal, he named Burkina Faso “Upper Volta,” which means "the country of men of integrity."

He suspended rural taxes and promoted land ownership reforms to reduce poverty rates and increase national production. He also built 350 new schools and developed a mass literacy campaign, which increased Burkina Faso’s literacy rate by 60 percent.

To guarantee gender equity, he prohibited female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Thanks to this approach, during his 4-year government, the number of girls in schools increased and many women held government positions.

Sankara also strengthened the national public health system, which allowed that 2,5 million children received vaccines against meningitis, yellow fever, and measles. In addition, the socialist leader confronted corrupt officials and built railroads nationwide.

To avoid the influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in his country, Sankara nationalized natural resources and promoted the reduction of the foreign debt, which he considered an instrument of imperialist submission.

On Oct. 15, 1987, a French-baked armed commando attacked the Ouagadougou Entente Council and killed Sankara and some of his collaborators.

"Revolutionary leaders can be assassinated, but their ideas not: they always remain in the spirit of their peoples," Sankara stated.

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