15 October 2019 marked 32 years since the death of Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara at the instance of an imperialist sponsored coup d’é·tat in 1987. Thomas Sankara was an unapologetic Pan-Africanist, Marxist Leninist, Black feminist and anti-imperialist revolutionary.

Black First Land First(BLF) is inspired by a Sankarist leadership practice. Sankara taught us that it is possible to use political office to put the people first. As President of Burkina Faso he didn’t use his status to enrich himself. He put an end to the luxuries that traditionally come with being a politician and senior civil servant. In this regard he replaced the Mercedes Benz with a Renault 5 and forbade the use of first class airline tickets, for instance.

In just four years Sankara managed to resolve all the big questions facing Blacks. Women’s liberation for instance was resolved via land ownership. To this end Black women were given equal ownership, management and control of land with their male counterparts. Gender equality was further promoted via the outlawing of female genital mutilation (FGM) and polygamy.

Sankara transformed the nation from being impoverished to self-reliant, economically independent and socially progressive. He denounced the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as instruments of imperialism from which he rejected loans. He promoted textile production and land based sustainable livelihoods including food production. Moreover, Sankara built railways, decolonized education, provided decent housing and sanitation, resolved the unemployment problem, ended rural poll taxes, executed a massive immunization program, and implemented a national reforestation program, amongst others.

Sankara thought us that leaders must not live parasitic luxurious lifestyles while the people suffer. He earned a paltry salary of $450 a month. He condemned compradoreal leaders as appendages of the international bourgeoisie, who depend upon imperialism for their survival and stunt the development of the productive forces. We have seen how in South Africa (SA) the agenda of these leaders (VBS lootists and Steinhoff sponsors for instance) – is utterly out of kilter with that of the revolution. They always side with imperialism by their actions and ultimately prove to be counter revolutionary.

BLF notes that imperialism used the comprador Blaise Campaore to be a traitor of Black liberation and to assassinate Thomas Sankara. But as Sankara said a week before he was murdered, “[w]hile revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”.

BLF calls upon the youth to honour and educate themselves about Thomas Sankara’s legacy. The fundamental lesson to learn from Sankara is that “a solider without political education is a potential criminal”. BLF urges you to watch the documentary, “Thomas Sankara: the Upright Man” and to familiarize yourself with ‘The Sankara Oath’ and the ‘People’s Manifesto’.