The transitional government of Burkina Faso has taken a significant step by posthumously recognising former President Thomas Sankara, a key figure in the country’s history and the father of the Burkinabe revolution, as a “hero of the nation.” This announcement was made on Wednesday, marking a momentous occasion in honouring Sankara’s legacy.
The decision to elevate Thomas Sankara to the rank of “hero of the nation” was adopted during a Council of Ministers meeting. It signifies the nation’s recognition of his enduring contribution to Burkina Faso and his commitment to the values upon which the Republic was built.
Thomas Sankara, widely regarded as a pan-African icon, assumed power in a coup in August 1983 and immediately embarked on a transformative journey for Burkina Faso. Tragically, his life was cut short when he was assassinated on 15 October 1987 by his second-in-command, Blaise Compaoré.
The status of “hero of the nation” was established in June 2022 to pay tribute to individuals who have displayed “exceptional bravery in the defence of a national cause” or demonstrated “exceptional and honourable prowess for the nation.”
Following Sankara’s assassination, Blaise Compaoré seized power and remained in control until a popular uprising in 2014 led to his downfall. In April 2022, after a six-month trial, a military court in Ouagadougou sentenced Compaoré, who currently resides in Côte d’Ivoire, in absentia to life imprisonment for his role in the assassination of Thomas Sankara.
To commemorate the legacy of Thomas Sankara and his companions, their bodies, initially buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, were exhumed on 25 May 2015 for legal proceedings and then reburied in a memorial constructed at the site of their tragic assassinations.
In honour of their memory, the government plans to organise a “national and international ceremony to pay tribute to the victims” on 15 October 2023, marking the anniversary of Thomas Sankara’s assassination. The transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, has consistently paid homage to Sankara since taking power in a coup on 30 September 2022, underscoring the enduring significance of Sankara’s ideals in Burkina Faso’s history and future.