Visiting Thomas Sankara’s Tomb

1 Dec

Captaine Thomas Sankara

Who is Thomas Sankara, he is a charismatic revolution hero from Burkina Faso, the name he gave the country meaning “land of upright man”. He came to power at the age of 32 via a military coup to oust former dictator in what was know as Upper Volter.

In the 4 years he ruled the country he made significant strides in improving the lives of people of Burkina Faso, in 4 years the country was able to feed itself, women where empowered and environmental degradation was reversed. What made Thomas Sankara more powerful was the simple life he lived as president, he sold all government Merc’s and used a modest Renault, he instructed all ministers to fly economy class, he used a bicycle to drive around the city.

He was the most vocal African president for the emancipation of the continent from the colonial rule, he suffered no fools in telling France, colonial power were to get off. One classic example is when he told French president to stop preaching about peace when he still meet with killers of black people like PW Botha, apartheid president of South Africa. He also played a role when SA white academics where having discussion with ANC in Lusaka, Dakar and other areas to discuss peaceful negotiations in South Africa. Monument was build in Burkina Faso for fight against apartheid during his rule. Unfortunately I did not get to see the monument when I was in Ouagadougou.

Thomas Sankara was assassinated in 1987 mission planned by the current president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, with the help of then Ivorian President and French government, the excuse for killing him was that he was disturbing relations with French government and neighboring nations.

So when i was in Burkina Faso I wanted to pay great respect to son of the soil, my plan was to visit his tomb on the outskirts of the city. The day before m and fellow traveler met a guide (Mamadou) who took us to a temporary “Musee de Music” to play with ancient instrument the new museum was being built. Before we departed i organized with him to take me to “Museum de Nacional” and I never told him about my plan to visit Sankara tombs. I thought I will throw it as plan in the morning. Whereabouts of the Sankara ‘s tomb are not available on guidebooks or public information, actually anything about Sankara has been reduced to tiny street named after him in the city.

After a rather boring trip to “Musee de Nacional” I bluntly told him I want to visit Sankara’s tomb my guide was surprised, he never had such a request before and he did not know where it was, apart from that he told me he is not comfortable to talk about Sankara publicly as its not encouraged by the present government. It did not take much to convince him to take me there, i told him how important is this to me and in the circles I live, he is as revered like many Africans Icons i.e. Lemumba, Mandela, Biko, Machel etc.

Mamadou 'Guidee'

He started asking normal people where is the Sankara’s tomb bits by bits, village by village we got to the area where the grave yard is, unfortunately where the taxi dropped us meant that we had to walk at least a km and when we got the the grave yard was camped it meant going around to the entrance gate, there was a security when we got there for fear of our entry being rejected we lied to him about what we gonna do there, he allowed us in and off we went, since it was a big grave yard I thought we were going to spend the whole day looking for it, fortunately Friends of Sankara were there few months ago to commemorate his 23rd year since his death, Sankara and fellow soldiers graves were all painted white and we could not miss them. I shed a tear when I got there it was of the most emotional experience for me on somebody I never saw in real life, I cried because I was asking what will Burkina Faso/Africa look like if such exceptional leaders where not killed, with him our aspirations for better Africa was killed.

Visit to Sankara’ s tomb remains one of my best highlights for backpacking West Africa

Thomas Sankara's Tomb


4 Responses to “Visiting Thomas Sankara’s Tomb”

  1. Vuyiswa Matomane December 12, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Just read a few of your blogs, inspiring. Love Africa and love to travel, as a female exploring it alone is a bit intimidating.

    • mokhathi December 13, 2011 at 2:34 am #

      Hi Vuyisa thanks for commenting on my blog, you will surprised how many women I meet travel alone in the continent from all over the world including South Africa. It’s not as intimidating as it looks try it you gonna have crazy fun.

  2. Lena April 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I love this Man so !!!!!! He has taught me do much & inspired me to be much more brave

  3. Mugabe Robert November 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Thanks for the great insight.I used to hear about Sankara from my uncle.He was such a great man who wanted development in Africa and hid country.Too bad that he died the way he died.

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