The Early Life Lived By Thomas Sankara

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Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara, commonly known by many as Thomas Sankara was born in Yako, French Upper Volta on December 21, 1949. He was the third born of ten children to his parents, Joseph and Marguerite Sankara. Joseph Sankara who was his father was a gendarme ( a military policeman) with a Mossi-Fulani (Silmi-Moaga) mixed blood, and his mother Marguerite Kinda was a direct descendant of Mossi.

Growing up as a child, his early years of living were spent in a southwestern town of Gaoua where wet covered the land in abundance. That was the particular area his father was delegated to as a supplementary military police to ensure protection of the civilians. Enjoyment was a great privileged position to him since his father was working as one of the top officials to be employed by the colonial countries. They lived with other military police members in a well decorated brick house. While staying on the mountain top, they had the advantage of overlooking at the rest of the people occupying Gaoua.

Growing up as a smart student, he attended an elementary school at Bobo-Dioulasso. While schooling there, he devoted his precious time to his studies and in mathematics and that of French language, he did excel. For his love for church which he often went, a lot of priests were impressed by his vigour and enthusiasm for learning. They inspired him with confidence to become a priest by entering the seminary after a successful graduation from elementary school. Though, there was an agreement made initially [for Thomas to go to the seminary and become a priest], he took and passed the mandatory exam needed to enter the sixth grade of the secular education system.

Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore

Thomas decided to continue his education at the recent Ouezzin Coulibaly High School. The school is named after the nationalist before independence. Thus, making the agreement unsuccessful (agreement of going to the seminary). After he successfully entered the high school, he left his father’s house since the school is situated in Bobo-Dioulasso. He made close friends, such as Fidèle Too and Soumane Touré who was in a class advanced than him. Later, he appointed Fidèle Too as government minister.

He went and joined the army despite the fact that his parents who were devout Catholics wanting him to be a Roman Father. By then, the army was very famous and powerful and just overthrew a scorned president. As a result, many young serious youths saw the military as a great institution to be used to get rid of the corrupt leaders. By then, there was a motivation factor once you join the army. In the military academy, there was a scholarship scheme for the students. In financial strength, Thomas wouldn’t easily afford a higher education.

He then sat for the entrance examination and like a surprise, he passed without a doubt. After pulling through the exam, without wasting much time, he joined the Kadiogo Military Academy situated in Ouagadougou, the capital town of Burkina Faso by then Upper Volta. He was just 17 years of age when he first got admission into the military academy in the year, 1966.

While there, and was undergoing his military training, the first military coup d’etat led by Lieutenant Colonel Sangoulé Lamizana on January 3, 1966 in Upper Volta occured before his eyes. A professor of history and geography, Adama Touré gave an invitation to some of his students who were politically sophisticated including Thomas to have a public discussion on neocolonialism, socialism, communism and imperialism, the African liberation movement, and that of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions and other related topics not necessary in the classroom. Without missing words, that moment was the first time Thomas was consistently exposed to the views of revolutionary in the Upper Volta and the world at large.

Thomas Sankara playing a guitar

In addition to his academic and extracurricular political activities, Thomas pursued his passion for music and played the guitar like a guitarist. At the age of 20 in 1970, Thomas continued his studies at the Antsirabe Military Academy in Madagascar in 1973 and graduated as a junior officer. The scope of teaching went beyond standard military subjects. This allowed Thomas to learn about agriculture; how to increase crop yields and improve farmers’ lives. During his regime, he accepted this topics under his government. He read a lot of military history and strategy more often. He later used the strategy learned to reinterpret the political history of Burkina Faso.

Keep visiting the website for the story behind Thomas Sankara’s military career.

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