Fanny Laplace says that this collection of speeches by the former Burkinabe leader Thomas Sankara provides a window to the vision of the revolutionary.
While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas,
Reading about Thomas Sankara amid the recent political unrest in Burkina Faso, takes one back to the political history of the country. A country which once stood up against corruption of power with the revolutionary Thomas Sankara (1949-1987), repeated this experience a few months ago by chasing away Blaise Compaoré as he attempted to alter the constitution in order to win another five-year mandate as President.
Bruno Jaffré, author of several publications on the Burkinabe revolution and Thomas Sankara, has compiled a selection of Sankara’s most remarkable speeches in this book. Through this, Jaffré was able to not only emphasise the universality of Sankara’s political legacy, but also to underline that Sankara must be remembered, not as a leader betrayed and killed in mysterious circumstances, but as a visionary who embraced humanist principles during his four years in power (1983-1987).
From issues such as Africa’s public debts, to the call for African cohesion and solidarity to enhance the continent’s position on the international stage, not to mention the place of women in society and protection of the environment, Thomas Sankara tackled all these topics in speeches on different occasions. Whether in front of the National Assembly of the United Nations, or during the African Union Summit, Sankara never ceased to advocate for a social and economic revolution to promote the development of the African continent: a revolution by Africans for Africans.
Reading this collection of Sankara’s speeches seems to be the best way to experience the powerful rhetoric of this leader. It is also a way to understand his Marxist-Leninist reading of the world, with the”imperialist-capitalist-former colonialist” countries against the “deprived third world nations”. A too simple black and white world. Not everyone may agree with Sankara’s political rhetoric and vision to change the future of African nations, however, no-one, or at least only a few, would question the truthfulness of the challenges he raised.
Bruno Jaffré has genuinely succeeded in making Sankara appear as a “precursor of the struggles of today”.
Thomas Sankara: Recueil de textes introduit par Bruno Jaffré
Editions du CETIM, 96 pages 2014
Fanny Laplace is a postgraduate student at LSE.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the Africa at LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.