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March 30, 2013 / Fantelius

The Crucifixion of Africa’s Top Son

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Ask a non-African about Thomas Sankara and you will most likely meet a blank face. When you hear about him, you may believe you are hearing about the hero of a Hollywood film, titled perhaps Africa’s Top Son.

He was a miltary officer who played the guitar in a band and rode a motorcycle. Upon becoming president of Upper Volta in 1983 at the age of 33, he changed the French name to Burkina Faso (Land of Upright Men) – and wrote the new national song. All the government Mercedes were sold and replaced with the cheapest Renaults. No official was allowed to have a chauffeur or fly 1st class. Salaries of all government officials, including his own, were reduced. The president would get by on $450/month. He distributed land from wealthy landlords to peasants thereby doubling wheat production in three years and making the country self-sufficient in food. He abandoned air conditioning in his office and set a policy for government employees to wear traditional clothes grown, woven and sewn by local farmers and craftsmen.

Thomas did much more in the few years he sat at the controls of Burkina Faso. Most noteworthy, even by today’s standards, was his determined struggle for women’s equality. No woman could have done more. It was too much for men with powerful interests. After barely four years he was disposed and assassinated with French backing. The same French who are now dropping bombs on the neighboring country of Mali – to help the people.

 

Two quotes by Thomas Sankara

“We must understand how the struggle of the Burkinabè woman is part of a worldwide struggle of all women and, beyond that, part of the struggle for the full rehabilitation of our continent. Thus, women’s emancipation is at the heart of the question of humanity itself, here and everywhere. The question is thus universal in character.”

“Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus, the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them.”

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