Ernest Harsch Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary

Ohio University Press, 2014

by Jim Lance on October 10, 2014

Ernest Harsch

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Thomas Sankara, often called the African Che Guevara, was president of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, until his assassination during a military coup that brought down his government. Although his time in office was relatively short, Sankara left an indelible mark on his country’s history and development. But as Ernest Harsch explains in his engaging biography, Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary (Ohio University Press, 2014), Sankara’s influence extends beyond Burkina Faso. Sankara was a moral force and an ardent spokesman for African dignity and struggle against neocolonial forces and Western economic domination. Harsch traces Sankara’s life from his student days to his recruitment into the military, his early political awakening, and his increasing dismay with his country’s extreme poverty and political corruption. Sankara and his colleagues initiated economic and social policies that shifted Burkina Faso away from dependence on foreign aid and toward a greater use of the country’s own resources to build schools, health clinics, and public works. Although Sankara’s sweeping vision and practical reforms won him admirers both within and without Burkina Faso, a combination of domestic opposition and factions within his own government and the army led to his assassination in 1987.

Harsch has written the first English-language book that relates the story of Sankara’s life and achievements. Based on extensive firsthand research in Burkina Faso as well as interviews with Sankara himself, this brief biography will give this neglected hero of the African revolution the attention he deserves.

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