Sankara Avenged?

By Brendan S.

Thomas Sankara (right) beside his assassin Blaise Compaoré (left) during their time as close friends, c. early 1980s. (Pic: Africa Facts Zone/Twitter)

Blaise Campaoré, the assassin of Burkinabè revolutionary Thomas Sankara, was sentenced to life in prison (in absentia) on Wednesday, putting to rest nearly three decades of neoliberal autocracy and reversal of Sankarist policies during the Campaoré administration. Campaoré is believed to be hiding in Côte d’Ivoire. This judicial decision comes from Burkina Faso’s President Paul-Henri Damiba military administration which assumed power via coup in January.


Sankara’s assassination and Burkina Faso’s immediate transition into neoliberalism subsequent to his assassination display the extreme fragility of unitary state structures. Regardless of how many are liberated and how many have been uplifted from dire conditions under a vanguard, the state will always hold a shell of unitary power that can be replaced by capitalist ruling classes in the blink of an eye. Burkina Faso is now immersed in a spiral of coups and indefinite restructuring that has no end in sight, a clear symptom of its unitary statehood.

Sankara (center) following the 1983 coup which brought him to power and overthrew the Republic of Upper Volta. (Pic: thomassankara.net)

Regardless, Sankara helped liberate millions and has empowered countless revolutionaries across the world. This is perhaps a small step toward justice in the process of Burkinabè rejuvenation, though not one that addresses the deep neocolonial flaws that remain entwined with the Burkinabè state. The next step is demilitarizing the state’s politics and removing its oligarchy, a step with many barriers in front of it.


Will Sankara truly be avenged until this happens? A question laced with a murky future.