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Burkina Faso Ex-Leader Sankara Buried at Site of his Murder

Burkina Faso’s former leader and anti-colonial icon Thomas Sankara and 12 of his followers were on Thursday buried at the site of their 1987 assassination in Ouagadougou.

A Marxist-Leninist Pan-African icon and a hero of anti-imperialist causes, Sankara seized power in a 1983 coup and was gunned down with a dozen other leaders in another putsch led by his number two Blaise Compaore on October 15, 1987.

The corpses were originally interred outside of Ouagadougou, and they were excavated in 2015 for a legal investigation.

According to Joseph Saba, a representative of the 13 families, “we are happy that our martyrs can finally rest in peace with a fitting grave because their souls had been wandering for eight years.”

“It’s a historic day, a solemn moment. They were killed, but they (the assassins) didn’t kill the vision, they didn’t snuff out the mission,” a chaplain said on Wednesday after the blessing of the bodies

Benewende Sankara, a lawyer for the Sankara family with no relation to them, said the ceremony was “the culmination of the quest for justice.”

Stanislas Damiba, president of the Sankara Orphans Association, which in the 1980s sent hundreds of Burkinabe youth to communist Cuba for professional training, said, “It’s a joy for all young people because it’s like a recognition.”

International ceremony

The government has said an international ceremony will be organised on October 15 this year to honour the victims.

Sankara came to power in August 1983 as an army captain, aged just 33.

He was known as the Che Guevara of Africa and advocated radical reforms while criticizing the West for its neocolonialism and hypocrisy.

He changed the country’s name from the colonial-era Upper Volta to Burkina Faso — “the land of honest men” — and pushed through a number of policies, including encouraging vaccination and prohibiting female genital mutilation.

Compaore, his successor and erstwhile comrade-in-arms, remained in power in the West African nation until a popular rebellion removed him in 2014.

A Burkinabe court convicted him to life in prison in absentia last year for his role in the assassination.


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