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Thomas Sankara Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987 Viewed by some as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution he is commonly referred to as “African Che Guevara” His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed by the West made him an icon to many of Africans poor Sankara remained popular with most of his country’s impoverished citizens However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments and the foreign financial interests in France and their ally the Ivory Coast. As a result he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d’état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987 A week before his execution he declared: While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered but you cannot kill ideas

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