On October 15, 1987 a friendship was brutally brought to an end, a betrayal hard to come to terms with. Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara and 12 of his aides were shot dead by Captain Blaise Compaore. The death of Captain Sankara was followed by one week of mourning in Ghana, and other African countries also grieved for the murder of a brave son of the continent. In Burkina Faso, despite the refusal of the then government to announce the death of Sankara, hoards of people rallied to Sankara’s grave. The New York Times reported: “The burial was so hasty that mourners were able to dip their handkerchiefs in pools of blood that drained from the grave.” On Sankara’s grave, notes like “Thomas Sankara, the Burkinabe people will never forget you,” were found.
Now in 2018, 31 years later after the life of a strong visionary was snuffed out, the Burkinabe people have kept true to the word in that promissory note. With every passing year, the words of Sankara are played all over the continent. His charisma and charming smile still draws many people to him. While in Malawi the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was proposed to be built, to the chagrin of many Africans, a similar statue that was built on the grounds of the University of Ghana was later removed. In the Land of the Upright, for the first time, Burkina Faso will build a monument for the great man, who gave his life for their country.
The statue will be erected on four hectares of land at the headquarters of the National Council of the Revolution, where President Sankara was killed. According to Africa News, “Several hundred people, including members of the government, attended the ceremony followed by a procession to the “Burkina” building in front of which President Sankara was shot dead.”
The first stone of the five meter bronze monument to the memory of Thomas Sankara was laid on October 15, 2018 in Ouagadougou. While Africans are quick to remember other leaders that never fought for their independence, they fail miserably when it comes to celebrating their own heroes.
Remembering the icons, heroes and heroines who are often forgotten is important, and the statue is critical to keep the legacy of Sankara alive in our minds.