‘You cannot carry out fundamental change without

a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes

from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back

on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future.

It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future’.

–Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso


The last century was “The Age of Extremes” as eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm called it. The second half of the century was an epoch when the world underwent profound changes on every level. While the US and the then Soviet Union were fighting a cold war against each other, many nationalists were trying to liberate their countries from foreign influences or their local cronies. Amongst them was one such man named Thomas Sankara. Born on December 21, 1949, he was one of the most remarkable African leaders of the 20th century, a young soldier who led a revolution in Burkina Faso and proceeded to build a self-reliant, egalitarian economy and society that was a model for the continent.

But he met the same fate that other visionaries suffered. Blaise Compaore overthrew him in a coup. Compaore promptly reversed Sankara’s revolutionary policies with the backing of the International Monetary Fund, France and the United States. He was assassinated on October 15, 1987.

His legacy continues to inspire a generation, and he remains one of the most extraordinary and charismatic African leaders, who strongly believed in African unity, the African liberation struggle, it’s social and economic freedom.