Thomas Sankara was a revolutionary who served as president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Known for his charisma, his government launched one of the most idealistic and ambitious programs ever implemented in Africa. He started by renaming the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso. He also vowed to eliminate his country's dependence on foreign aid from NGOs and organizations like the World Bank and IMF. He implemented land reforms, improved literacy, championed women's rights, promoted large scale vaccination campaigns, and planted millions of trees to stem the growing Sahel desert.
While these reforms made him popular especially with poor Burkinabes, some rich and middle class citizens disliked him for implementing them, because their privileged positions came under threat. Burkina Faso's former colonial master was also not happy with her eroding influence in the country. On 15th October 1987, 37 year old Sankara was assassinated by soldiers led by Blaise Compaore, who took over as president. A week before his death, he ominously said: "While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas".
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