Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man

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Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man
Directed byRobin Shuffield
Screenplay byRobin Shuffield
Produced byZORN Production
CinematographyMarc Ridley, Robin Shuffield
Edited bySamuel Gantier, Serge Dietrich
Music byCyril Orcel
Release date
Running time
52 minutes

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man (French: Thomas Sankara, l'homme intègre) is a 2006 documentary film about Thomas Sankara, the former president of Burkina Faso. Thomas Sankara, often referred to as "the African Che," Thomas Sankara, the Upright Man became an eminent figure in Africa. Sankara was elected President of Burkina Faso at the age of 34, serving from 1983 until his assassination in 1987.

The French colonizers initially named it Upper Volta, but it was later renamed Burkina Faso by Sankara. The name Burkina Faso means "Land of Upright men." This film sheds light on the impact that Sankara and his politics had on Burkina Faso, and Africa in general. [1] [2]

The film recovers a detailed history of Sankara's four-year rule and his revolutionary program for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neoliberal development strategies imposed on Africa by the West. [3]

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burkina Faso</span> Country in West Africa

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa with an area of 274,200 km2 (105,900 sq mi), bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Ivory Coast to the southwest. As of 2021, the country had an estimated population of 20,321,378. Previously called Republic of Upper Volta (1958–1984), it was renamed Burkina Faso by President Thomas Sankara. Its citizens are known as Burkinabè, and its capital and largest city is Ouagadougou. Its name is often translated into English as the "Land of Honest Men".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Burkina Faso</span> Aspect of history

The history of Burkina Faso includes the history of various kingdoms within the country, such as the Mossi kingdoms, as well as the later French colonisation of the territory and its independence as the Republic of Upper Volta in 1960.

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The Republic of Upper Volta was a landlocked West African country established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing state within the French Community. Before becoming autonomous, it had been part of the French Union as the French Upper Volta. On 5 August 1960, it gained full independence from France. On 4 August 1984, it changed its name to Burkina Faso.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Sankara</span> President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was a Burkinabè military officer, Marxist revolutionary and Pan-Africanist who served as President of Burkina Faso from his coup in 1983 to his assassination in 1987. He is viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of the revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ditanyè</span> National anthem of Burkina Faso

"Ditanyè", also known as "L'Hymne de la victoire" or "Une Seule Nuit", is the national anthem of Burkina Faso. Former president Thomas Sankara, also a jazz guitarist, wrote the lyrics. The composer of the melody is unknown, but it has also been attributed to Sankara.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blaise Compaoré</span> President of Burkina Faso from 1987 to 2014

Blaise Compaoré is a Burkinabé-Ivorian former politician who served as the second president of Burkina Faso from 1987 to 2014. He was a close associate of the first president, Thomas Sankara, during the 1980s and in October 1987 he led a coup d'état during which Sankara was killed. Subsequently, he introduced a policy of 'rectification', overturning the leftist and Third Worldist policies pursued by Sankara. He won elections in 1991, 1998, 2005 and 2010, in what were considered unfair circumstances. His attempt to amend the constitution to extend his 27-year term caused the 2014 Burkinabé uprising. On 31 October 2014, Compaoré resigned, whereupon he fled to the Ivory Coast. In April 2022, he was found guilty by a special military tribunal of complicity in Sankara’s murder. He is also the longest-serving president of Burkina Faso.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo</span> Burkinabé politician (born 1942)

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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Sankarism is a term sometimes applied to denote a left-wing ideological trend within the politics of Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, as well as the policies of the military government led by Captain Thomas Sankara. Sankara came to power in what was then the Republic of Upper Volta in a popularly supported 1983 military coup, and ruled until his assassination in a coup led by Blaise Compaoré in 1987.

The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution were a system of local revolutionary cells, established in Burkina Faso by the Marxist-Leninist and pan-Africanist leader Thomas Sankara, President of the country from 1983 until his assassination in 1987. Committees were established in each workplace. They were inspired by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution in Cuba, and functioned as "organs of political and social control."

The Popular Revolutionary Tribunals were a system of courts, through which the workers and peasants of Burkina Faso were intended to be able to participate in and monitor the trials of criminals in the new Marxist–Leninist and pan-Africanist government of Thomas Sankara and his National Council for the Revolution. Among these were members of the previous government, corrupt officials, "lazy workers", and supposed counter-revolutionaries.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burkina Faso–Libya relations</span> Bilateral relations

Burkina Faso–Libya relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Libya and Burkina Faso. Libya maintains an embassy in the Burkinabé capital of Ouagadougou, and Burkina Faso has an embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

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.

The Le Balai Citoyen, is a political grassroots movement in Burkina Faso, which was part of the opposition against President Blaise Compaoré. It was co-founded by two musicians, reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah and rapper Serge Bambara ('Smockey') in the Summer of 2013. They organized several protests in early 2014, for example hosting a joint rally with the newly formed Movement of People for Progress, filling a 35,000-capacity sports stadium to its rafters.

Serge Bambara is a hip hop artist, actor and political activist from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Born in what was then the Republic of Upper Volta, the son of a Bissa father and a French mother, he moved to France to study in 1991. In 1999 he signed a contract with EMI and launched a first single, featuring the singer Lââm. In 2001 he moved back to Burkina Faso and started the studio Abazon. He has released the albums Epitaphe, Zamana, Code noir and Cravate Costards et Pourriture, and cooperated with the prominent Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi.

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Gilbert Diendéré is a Burkinabé military officer and the Chairman of the National Council for Democracy, the military junta that briefly seized power in Burkina Faso in the September 2015 coup d'état. He was a long-time aide to President Blaise Compaoré, serving as commander of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP) during Compaoré's rule. He was appointed as chairman of the junta on 17 September 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1987 Burkina Faso coup d'état</span> Coup that brought Blaise Compaoré to power

The 1987 Burkina Faso coup d'état was a bloody military coup in Burkina Faso, which took place on 15 October 1987. The coup was organized by Captain Blaise Compaoré against incumbent far-left President Captain Thomas Sankara, his former friend and associate during the 1983 upheaval.

On 4 August 1983, a coup d'état was launched in the Republic of Upper Volta in an event sometimes referred to as the August revolution or Burkinabé revolution. It was carried out by radical elements of the army led by Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaoré, against the regime of Major Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. Ouédraogo had been brought to power in a 1982 coup with the Conseil de Salut du Peuple (CSP), a body composed of military officials of different ideological backgrounds. The CSP chose Sankara as Prime Minister of Upper Volta in January 1983. As his tenure progressed, Ouédraogo found himself unable to reconcile the conservative and radical factions of the CSP, whose disagreements were leading to a political stalemate. On 16 May he purged his government of pro-Libyan and anti-French elements, disbanded the CSP, and had Sankara and several other important officials arrested. This move sparked discontent among Sankara's supporters. Sankara was eventually released while one officer, Compaoré, began to organise military resistance to the government.

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Odile Sankara is a Burkinabé artist, actress, playwright and director. She is the President of the Récréâtrales and a younger sister to the late revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apollinaire J. Kyélem de Tambèla</span> Prime Minister of Burkina Faso

Apollinaire Joachim Kyélem de Tambèla is a Burkinabe lawyer, pan-Africanist, writer and statesman, serving as the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso since 2022.


  1. Delafin, Antoinette (15 October 2007). "Thomas Sankara crève l'écran". Radio France Internationale (in French). Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  2. "Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man". California Newsreel . Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  3. Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man (2006) , retrieved 2023-06-20