Toma Sankara is a writer, politician and creator of the national anthem of a small African country, who was treacherously murdered by his comrades. A week before his death, speaking at a rally dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the assassination of his idol Ernesto Che Guevara, he uttered a phrase that later became his epitaph: “Revolutionaries can be killed, ideas can never”
Burkina Faso has always been a poor country. And when it was called Upper Volta and was a French colony, and when it gained independence in 1960. It has repeated the fate of many other newly independent African states, mired in a series of endless and bloody military coups, as a result of which Democrats overthrow dictators in order to establish their own dictatorship.
However, such a political leapfrog sometimes allows amazing people to rise to the top of power. So it was with Sankara. His parents came from different tribal groups, as a result of which their son was considered a silmomosi - a "third class" man. Thomas could achieve something in life only through serving in the army. And it was there that he went at the age of 19. And quickly established itself. A year later, he was sent to the officers' school in Madagascar. There, in addition to military science, Sankara, carried away by socialist ideas, reading the works of Marx and Lenin.
Returning to his homeland in 1972, he fought in the border war with Mali in 1974, and in 1976 he headed the army commando training center.
During his service, Sankara became friends with several young officers of the radical left: Blaise Compaoré, Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Lingani. Like four Musketeers, they begin to make friends and get involved in political intrigues. Under the military dictatorship of Colonel Saye Zerbo Sankara and his associates create a secret organization called the "Group of Communist Officers". And since Thomas expressed the sentiments of a significant part of the country's young officers, the authorities had to reckon with him. And she even tried to win him over to her side. He was first appointed Secretary of State for Information in the Zerbo government. But soon, accusing the government of infringing on the working class, with the words: "Woe to those who shut the mouth of the people!" Thomas went over to the opposition. In 1982, Colonel Zerbo was overthrown by the physician Ouedraogo and became president himself. He raised Santara even higher and appointed him prime minister. However, this displeased France, which still had great influence in its former colony. Ouedraogo removed the "too radical" Sankara from his post and placed him under house arrest. Thomas's friends Zongo and Lingani were also arrested. The "last of the Musketeers" Blaise Compaoré remained at large. He knocked out the capital's garrison for an uprising, overthrew Ouedraogo and actually put Sankara in the presidency.
Thomas, of course, responded with gratitude to Blaise, making him the second person in the country in the rank of Minister of Justice. Their friends, Zongo and Lingani, also came to power. But in fact, only Sankara ruled in accordance with his ideals. And the ideals for him were the revolutions: the Cuban, French and October revolutions in Russia in 1917.
From the French Revolution, he took committees and revolutionary tribunals. The cornerstone of his policy was the committees for the defense of the revolution, which were to deal with local governance. From the October Revolution, he took the coat of arms, various renaming and orientation towards the working class. Sankara renamed Upper Volta Burkina Faso, which translated from local languages means "home of honest people." And he himself invented the coat of arms for his country, which, by analogy with the crossed hammer and sickle, depicts a crossed hoe and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. And from the leaders of the Cuban revolution, he took a demonstrative personal modesty.
Sankara first rode a bicycle to work, then, yielding to the requests of his associates, changed it to a cheap Renault. Burkina Faso's president lived in a small brick house with a refrigerator that did not have a freezer, wore only locally made cotton clothing and tried to eat only local produce.
For several years of rule, Sankara has achieved amazing success. He created a road infrastructure, planted millions of trees on the border of the Sahara to stop the movement of the sands. The agrarian reform doubled the grain yield and effectively eliminated hunger in the country. Sankara cut the salaries of officials, and also banned them from using personal chauffeurs and flying on first-class air tickets. Officials were required to change expensive Western suits for a traditional cotton tunic made by local residents. On New Year's Eve, administrators were obliged to hand over a monthly salary in favor of social funds. Having fired half of the cabinet one day, Sankara sent them to collective farms - to work on the land "where they will be most useful." Three years after Sankara came to power (in 1986), the World Bank stated that corruption had been eradicated in Burkina Faso. But his achievements in the social sphere were even more impressive: a system of free education and medicine was created, children were vaccinated, the barbaric custom of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and polygamy were prohibited, and women were equal in rights with men. Child mortality has been cut in half, and women have entered government for the first time.
But, paradoxically, with all these achievements, the number of dissatisfied with the rule of Sankara grew steadily. And the reason for this was precisely his reforms and revolutionary methods. Officials were unhappy with the cut in half of their salaries, tribal leaders were unhappy with the loss of power, which passed to the committees. Large landowners are dissatisfied with the seizure of land from them in favor of the peasants. It is well known what the revolutionary tribunals in France have brought the country to. The tribunals in Burkina Faso have sinned with personal bias. Did not add popularity to the president and some of his voluntaristic actions. Somehow, in response to the teachers' strike, Sankara fired thousands of teachers and replaced them with ordinary people who were "not boom-boom" in teaching.
But the most important thing is that the inhabitants of Burkina Faso, like all Africans in general, are quite lazy, they simply groaned at the super-efforts and sacrifices that the president demanded of them in the name of the revolution. The ripening discontent against Sankara was shared even by his closest associates. The secret services reported to Thomas that Compaore was preparing a conspiracy against him.
On October 12, 1987, Sankara said at a press conference: "If Blaise raises his hand on me, then I should not live, because I do not want to live in a world where there is no friendship and honor, " and forbade the police to check information about the preparation of the putsch ...
And soon he really stopped living, because Compaore carried out a coup d'état, during which Thomas Sankara was killed on October 15, 1987. The bodies of Sankara and twelve closest aides killed in the coup were buried in an unmarked grave, while the murdered president's wife and two children fled the country. A number of committees for the defense of the revolution continued to provide armed resistance to the army for several days after the assassination of the president.
The country began to be ruled by three of his former friends, whom, after what had happened, the language did not dare to call them musketeers. Blaise Compaoré became president, one of the Zongo's minister and Jean-Baptiste Lingani as chief of police. By the way, soon Lingani and Zongo were accused of preparing a coup and shot.
The new president, Compaore, first of all bought a personal Boeing with funds intended for the improvement of the outskirts of the capital and increased the salaries of officials. A little later, Compaore changed the constitution, increasing the possibility for himself to be re-elected indefinitely.
And he expressed the philosophy of his seizure of power as follows:
“I know that many reproach me, remembering a person who has long been dead. But let them look around, let them see bright shop windows and beautiful cars. Could we have it all, if he were alive? No, no and NO! He offered the people only hard, exhausting work, only a dull life in isolation from the whole world, only despicable leveling and nothing more. I took full responsibility for what happened, and I have nothing to reproach myself with. The grandchildren will judge us. "