One afternoon in Ouagadougou, the capital, we went to visit the grave of Tomas Sankara. Tomas Sankara was a charismatic revolutionary leader who seized power in a coup d´etat in 1983, with the help from the current president Blaise Compaore. He quickly started an impressive list of welfare reforms and anti-corruption campaigns; women were appointed into the ministry, and 3 million children were vaccinated against yellow fever, measles and meningitis in only 15 days. Having both Mossi and Fulani roots, he turned his mixed origins into a symbol of unity. He renamed the country from the colonial name Upper Volta (Haute-Volta) into Burkina Faso, combining elements from three major languages Moore, Dioula and Fulfulde. For all his welfare programs, he was still a dictator, albeit a relatively mild one by African standards. He maintained difficult relationships with Europe and America, as well as many of his African neighbors, in some cases leading to war. Refusing to curb the aggressive behavior of his party to opponents, and increasingly paranoid, he alienated many former friends. This eventually lead to his downfall in 1987, when he was killed in another coup
d´etat, this time his old friend and ally, Blaise Compoare ,seized power and have remained there ever since.
Tomas Sankara´s reforms, anti-corruption campaigns, and premature death has made him an idol all over the African continent, and thousands people visit his discreet grave every year. It is somewhat telling to note that when he died, after four years of absolute power, he left behind an old Renault and 560 dollars in the bank.
written by Johan