The Military Career Of Thomas Sankara


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.

Thomas was 19 years old of age when he started his military career after obtaining his basic military training in high school in the year, 1966. Astonishingly, a year later, he was sent to Madagascar to have officer training in Antsirable. While there, in 1971 and 1972, he witnessed a strong opposition against Philibert Tsiranana. During this period, he spent time reading some works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Their works influenced his political views into an extent that he began applying them in his political journey till his world turned upside down.

Patriotically, in the year 1972, he returned to Upper Volta now Burkina Faso and in 1974, he participated in a border war between Upper Volta and Mali. He is known till now for his bravery in the border war with Mali. Upon all the accolades he had received from the people, years later, he was declared as “useless and unfair” to abandon the war, reflecting his growing political consciousness.

Thomas Sankara playing a guitar

He also became a popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. Thomas was a decent military guitarist. He rode a bike and played in a band called “Tout-à- Coup Jazz”. He became the commander of Pô’s command training center in the year 1976. He met Blaise Compaoré in Morocco in that same year. During Colonel Saye Zerbo’s presidency, a group of young military officers formed a secret organization called Regroupement des officiers communistes (ROC). The most famous members were Henri Zongo, Jean Baptiste Boukary Lingani, Blaise Compaoré, and Thomas Sankara.



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