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Sankara, Thomas (1949–1987)

Adebusuyi I. Adeniran

Subject History
Legal and Political » Political Philosophy
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Africa » Western Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics government , justice, revolution, rights

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01313.x


Thomas Sankara was a revolutionary military officer, humanist, and committed Marxist who was president of Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) from August, 4, 1983 to October 15, 1987. During his rule Sankara implemented social programs oriented toward the masses, especially directed at the emancipation of women and children. He implemented these programs even as various elitist groups were directly opposed to his high-profile social change. Consequently, Sankara challenged entrenched vested interests during his period in office and was overthrown and murdered by a former ally, Blaise Compaore, who succeeded him on October 15, 1987. Sankara was born into a Roman Catholic family on December 21, 1949. He was of the Silmi-Mossi ethnic group (individuals from unions between Mossi men and pastoral Fulani women). They are often the most deprived in the Mossi caste system. His father was Joseph Sankara, who worked as a gendarme. After completing his primary education in Gaoua, he proceeded to high school in 1966, where he received basic military training. His military career began at age 19. However, at age 20, Sankara was already seconded to Antsirabe, Madagascar for an officer training course. While on the course he witnessed a series of social unrests and uprisings between 1971 and 1972. These were to shape his reasoning and philosophies in later life, particularly in national undertakings. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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