Colonize: to send one county's people to another nation to take control of it and steal it's resources
Independence: rule of self and responsibility for self
Puppet Government: a government that is controlled by another country. These governments serve the foreign country instead of their own people.
Burkina Faso is a West African country. It borders the countries: Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. The capital is Ouagadougou.
In the late 1800s, France colonized most of western Africa. The area under their control included the present-day country, Burkina Faso. The French named this country Upper Volta. In the 1950s, African countries began freeing themselves from colonization. The Republic of Upper Volta gained independence in 1960. The French set up a puppet government before they left. These leaders allowed France to continue controlling Upper Volta. The French and their African puppets got richer while most people suffered in poverty. The people of Upper Volta grew dissatisfied. They wanted freedom, justice, and equality.
President Thomas Sankara
On December 21, 1949, Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was born in Upper Volta. Brother Sankara was a righteous child. He loved peace and justice. Wherever he witnessed an argument, he would strive to find a just solution. Little Sankara had the qualities needed to qualify himself as a great leader.
Thomas Sankara came from a Christian family. They wanted him to become a priest. Instead, he chose to live a meaningful life by serving his country. Sankara became an accomplished pilot and a captain in the military. After growing tired of seeing his people oppressed, Thomas Sankara and others overthrew the puppet government of "Upper Volta." The people chose Brother Sankara to become the new president. He changed the name of the country to Burkina Faso, a dignified African name. Burkina Faso means “Land of the Upright (righteous) People."
Quote: "A soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal." - Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara grew to be a very humble man. He led by example, not just by words. His people were poor, so he lived a simple life as well. For instance, Sankara knew his people could not afford luxuries like air conditioning, so he did not use it. He owned an inexpensive car, a few clothes, some bikes, and three guitars. President Sankara wanted to help his people work their way out of poverty.
Thomas Sankara was president for a short period from 1983-1987. Still, he accomplished a lot. France did not want Burkina Faso to be truly independent. France and Sankara's best friend, Blaise Compaore (a puppet), had him murdered. Blaise became president of Burkina Faso. He remained president until 2014.
Quote: “Our country produces enough to feed us all. Alas, for lack of organization, we are forced to beg for food aid. It’s this aid that instills in our spirits the attitude of beggars.” - Thomas Sankara
“Let us produce what we need and use what we produce.”
- President Sankara changed the European name of his country to Burkina Faso.
- He declined aid (money) from foreign countries.
- Brother Sankara wanted the countries of Africa to stop repaying their loans to Europe. These loans were tricks used to keep poor nations dependent on their former colonizers.
- He stopped the government from wasting money.
- President Sankara lowered the pay of public workers. He decreased his own salary to just $450 per month.
- He forced government workers to wear traditional African clothing. The people of Burkina Faso grew their own cotton. They wove the cotton into fabric. Then, they produced the garments and sold them. Wearing traditional clothes created many jobs.
- Thomas Sankara encouraged his people to live simple, affordable lifestyles.
- He wanted Burkina Faso to supply its own food, homes, schools, and transportation systems.
- His Battle of the Rails project constructed an important railroad for the country. Due to a lack of money, the citizens of Burkina Faso proudly built it with their bare hands.
- His One Village, One Grove project encouraged his people to plant 10 million trees. Planting these trees made the land more fertile.
- President Sankara raised reading levels from thirteen (13%) to seventy-three percent (73%).
- He built over 350 schools.
- President Sankara improved medical care in his country.
- He banned forced marriages and other customs that hurt women.
- Brother Sankara encouraged women to work.
- He appointed women to powerful government and military positions.
- President Sankara forbid political opposition.
- How is President Sankara's plan similar to the Muslim Program given by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad?
- Do you see any differences between them?
- What do you like about President Sankara's plan?
- Is there anything you don't like about President Sankara's plan?
- What could be improved?
Photo Credits: Wendkouni