Republic of Upper Volta

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Republic of Upper Volta

République de Haute-Volta (French)
Coat of arms of Upper Volta.svg
Coat of arms
Motto: "Unité Travail Justice" (in French)
"Unity Work Justice"
Common languages French
Maurice Yaméogo
Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
Thomas Sankara
High Commissioner  
Max Berthet
Paul Masson
Prime Minister  
Gérard Kango Ouédraogo
Thomas Sankara
Historical era Cold War
December 11 1958
August 5, 1960
August 4 1984
Currency CFA franc
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of France.svg French Upper Volta
Burkina Faso Flag of Burkina Faso.svg
Today part ofFlag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso
Part of a series on the
History of Burkina Faso
Presidential Standard of Burkina Faso.svg
c. 3rd–13th century
Mossi Kingdoms c. 11th century – 1896
French Upper Volta
Republic 1958–1984
Burkina Faso
Agacher Strip War 1985
Assassination of Sankara 1987
Compaoré rule 1987–2014
Burkinabè revolution 2014
Transitional period 2014–2015
Burkinabé coup d'état 2015
2015 elections and aftermath 2015–present
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg Burkina Fasoportal

The Republic of Upper Volta (French : République de Haute-Volta), now Burkina Faso, was a landlocked West African country established on December 11, 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. [1] [2] Before attaining autonomy it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On August 5, 1960, it attained full independence from France. [3]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Burkina Faso country in Africa

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. The July 2018 population estimate by the United Nations was 19,751,651. Burkina Faso is a francophone country, with French as the official language of government and business. Roughly 40% of the population speaks the Mossi language. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta (1958–1984), the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. Its citizens are known as Burkinabé. Its capital is Ouagadougou.

In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. Most self-governing colonies had responsible government.


Map showing the Volta River in Upper Volta. Upper volta map with rivers.PNG
Map showing the Volta River in Upper Volta.

Thomas Sankara came to power through a military coup d'état on August 4, 1983. [4] After the coup, he formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with himself as president. Under the direction of Sankara, the country changed its name on August 4, 1984, from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means "Land of Incorruptible People". [5]

Thomas Sankara President of Upper Volta

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was a Burkinabé revolutionary and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. A Marxist and pan-Africanist, he was viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, and is sometimes referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara".

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government

A coup d'état, also known as a putsch, a golpe, or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

The name Upper Volta indicated that the country contains the upper part of the Volta River. The colors of the national flag corresponded to the names of its three main tributaries — the Black Volta, the White Volta, and the Red Volta. [6]

Volta River river in Ghana

The Volta River is the main river system in the West African country of Ghana. It flows into Ghana from Bobo-Dioulasso highlands of Burkina Faso. The main part of the river are the Black Volta, the White Volta, and the Red Volta. In the northwest, the Black Volta forms the international boundaries between the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. The Volta flows southward along Akwapim-Togoland highlands, and it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of Guinea at Ada. It has a smaller tributary river, the Oti, which enters Ghana from Togo in the east. The Volta River has been dammed at Akosombo for the purpose of generating hydroelectricity. The reservoir named Lake Volta stretches from Akosombo in the south to the northern part of the country, thus being one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world.

Black Volta river in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Ghana

The Black Volta or Mouhoun is a river that flows through Burkina Faso flowing about 1,352 km (840 mi) to the White Volta in Dagbon, Ghana. The Black Volta forms part of the border between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Within Ghana, it forms the border between the Northern Region and the Brong-Ahafo Region. The Bui Dam is built on the river in Ghana. The river bisects Bui National Park in Ghana.

White Volta river

The White Volta or Nakanbé is the headstream of the Volta River, Ghana's main waterway. The White Volta emerges in northern Burkina Faso, flows through North Ghana and empties into Lake Volta in Ghana. The White Volta's main tributaries are the Black Volta and the Red Volta.


Upper Volta obtained independence on August 5, 1960. The first president of the country, Maurice Yaméogo, is at the head of the Alliance for Democracy and the Federation / African Democratic Rally . The 1960 Constitution establishes the election by direct universal suffrage of the President and the National Assembly for a term of five years. Shortly after coming to power, Yaméogo banned all political parties other than the Alliance for Democracy.

French Upper Volta former colony of French West Africa

Upper Volta was a colony of French West Africa established on 1 March 1919, from territories that had been part of the colonies of Upper Senegal and Niger and the Côte d'Ivoire. The colony was dissolved on 5 September 1932, with parts being administered by the Côte d'Ivoire, French Sudan and the Colony of Niger.

Maurice Yaméogo Burkina Faso President

Maurice Yaméogo was the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now called Burkina Faso, from 1959 until 1966.

Alliance for Democracy and Federation – African Democratic Rally

The Alliance for Democracy and Federation–African Democratic Rally is a liberal political alliance in Burkina Faso, consisting of the Alliance for Democracy and Federation and the former ruling party African Democratic Rally.

Thomas Sankara came to power by a coup on August 4, 1983. After coming to power, he formed the National Council of the Revolution (NCRC), and became the president of the twenty-man council. Under his rule, the name of the state was changed on August 4, 1984, from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, meaning "the homeland of upright men."


From 1958 to 1960, the Republic of Upper Volta was headed by a High Commissioner:

From 1971 to 1987, the Republic of Upper Volta was reigned by Prime Minister:



The three colors of the national flag of Upper Volta come from the fact that the Volta has three parts:

National Hymm

In French:

Verse 1:

Fière Volta de mes aieux,

Ton soleil ardent et glorieux

Te revêt d'or et de fierté

Ô Reine drapée de loyauté !


Nous te ferons et plus forte, et plus belle

À ton amour nous resterons fidèles

Et nos cœurs vibrant de fierté

Acclameront ta beauté

Vers l'horizon lève les yeux

Frémis aux accents tumultueux

De tes fiers enfants tous dressés

Promesses d'avenir caressées


Le travail de ton sol brûlant

Sans fin trempera les cœurs ardents,

Et les vertus de tes enfants

Le ceindront d'un diadème triomphant.


Que Dieu te garde en sa bonté,

Que du bonheur de ton sol aimé,

L'Amour des frères soit la clé,

Honneur, Unité et Liberté.

In English:


Proud Volta of my ancestors,

Your ardent and glorious sun

Takes you with gold and pride

O Queen draped with loyalty!


We will make you stronger and more beautiful

To your love we will remain faithful

And our hearts vibrant with pride

Will acclaim your beauty

Towards the horizon look up

Frisks with the tumultuous accents

Of your proud children all trained

Caressed promises of future


The work of your burning ground

Endless will soak the ardent hearts,

And the virtues of your children

The girdle of a triumphant diadem.


May God keep you in his goodness,

May the happiness of your beloved soil,

The love of the brethren be the key,

Honor, Unity and Freedom.

This anthem has been replaced since 1984 by a new anthem, the Ditanyè.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Flag of Burkina Faso flag

The national flag of Burkina Faso is formed by two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green, with a yellow five-pointed star resting in the center. In Blazon: Per fess gules and vert, a mullet of five points Or. The flag was adopted on 4 August 1984. The flag is coloured in the popular Pan-African colours of the Ethiopian flag, reflecting both a break with the country’s colonial past and its unity with other African ex-colonies. The red is also said to symbolize the revolution and the green the abundance of agricultural and natural riches. The yellow star placed over the red and green stripes is the guiding light of the revolution. The flag was adopted following the coup of 1983 which brought Thomas Sankara to power.

Jean-Baptiste Philippe Ouédraogo, also referred to by his initials JBO, is a Burkinabé physician and retired military officer who served as President of Upper Volta from 8 November 1982 to 4 August 1983. He has since mediated a few national political disputes and operates a clinic in Somgandé.

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The National Union for Democracy and Development is a political party in Burkina Faso. A part of the country's opposition, the UNDD is currently led by Hermann Yaméogo, son of the country's first president, Maurice Yaméogo.

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The Hymne National Voltaïque was the national anthem of Upper Volta from 1960 until 1984, when the country's name was changed to Burkina Faso, and the existing anthem Une Seule Nuit was adopted.

Major Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani was an officer of Army of the Republic of Upper Volta executed on September 19, 1989 along with Henri Zongo by Blaise Compaoré who accused them of plotting a coup. Lingani was set by Laurent Sédego, Gilbert Diendéré, Hermann Yaméogo, Issa Tiendrébeogo and his cousin Alain Ouilma of national safety department.

Mariam Sankara is the widow of Thomas Sankara, the President of Burkina Faso from 4 August 1983 until his assassination on 15 October 1987. During this time she was First Lady of the country. Thomas Sankara, a Marxist and pan-Africanist army officer, became President of what was then known as the Republic of Upper Volta after a military coup in August 1983. He carried out what he proclaimed to be, the "Democratic and Popular Revolution", implementing many radical reforms. Sankara was killed in a coup in October 1987, orchestrated by his former friend and colleague Blaise Compaoré.

Tout-à-Coup Jazz was a musical group formed in the Republic of Upper Volta in the 1970s, during the military rule of Colonel General Sangoulé Lamizana. In French, tout à coup is an adverb meaning "suddenly" or "out of the blue". As the name indicates, the band played jazz, and is said to have been relatively popular. The band included Captain Thomas Sankara on guitar and his close friend, Captain Blaise Compaoré, on the microphone.

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The 1980 Upper Voltan coup d'état took place on 25 November 1980 in the Republic of Upper Volta. Following a long period of drought, famine, popular unrest and labour strikes, Colonel Saye Zerbo overthrew President Sangoulé Lamizana, another military leader. Zerbo himself would be overthrown only two years later.

The 1982 Upper Voltan coup d'état took place in the Republic of Upper Volta on 7 November 1982. The coup, led by the little-known Colonel Gabriel Yoryan Somé and a slew of other junior officers within the military, many of them political radicals, overthrew the regime of Colonel Saye Zerbo. Zerbo had previously taken power just under two years prior to his own downfall.


  3. Meredith, Martin (2013). The State of Africa . Simon & Schuster. p. 69. ISBN   9780857203885.
  5. "More (Language of the Mossi Tribe) Phrase Book". World Digital Library . Retrieved 16 February 2013.

Coordinates: 12°16′N2°4′W / 12.267°N 2.067°W / 12.267; -2.067