Burkina Faso: Sankara gets a street — but where's the legacy?

Thirty-six years ago this week, Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was assassinated in a coup. Some feel his legacy is being carried forward by the head of the country's current junta, Ibrahim Traoré. Like Sankara, Traoré seized power in his early 30s and has espoused strong anti-imperialist views. He has cut ties with former colonial ruler France, snubbed offers of Western military aid, and nominated a Sankara supporter as prime minister. At a commemoration this week in Ouagadougou, authorities announced that the capital city's Boulevard Charles de Gaulle will be renamed Boulevard Thomas Sankara.

Still, detractors argue that Traoré lacks a social project comparable to Sankara, who challenged global capitalism, and built schools and health centers. Critics say Traoré mobilizes anti-imperialism to legitimize his rule, which is threatened by disgruntled soldiers and jihadist insurgents. The army captain, in power since late last year, has pursued an all-out military strategy against jihadists, spurning the dialogue options pursued by his predecessors. Insecurity has worsened under his watch, and his troops have been accused of brutal attacks against civilians.

From The New Humanitarian, Oct. 20

See our last report on the legacy of Thomas Sankara.