Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man | Chicago Reader

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man

Edited for an hour-long slot on French TV, this 2006 video profiles Thomas Sankara, the African Marxist who came to power in a 1983 military coup, renamed his country Burkina Faso (“land of upright people”), and launched sweeping left-wing reforms before he was assassinated in another coup four years later. Muddy footage shows Sankara to have been a handsome, clever, and hugely charismatic leader, one who pushed women's rights and economic independence and who had the nerve to publicly upbraid Francois Mitterrand on camera about the West's tolerance of South African apartheid. Unfortunately director Robin Shuffield gives most of the video over to dry sound bites from diplomats, revealing little about Sankara's early years or personal life; it's a tantalizing sketch of a fascinating figure. 52 min.

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