Thomas Sankara the President of Burkina Faso was viewed by many as an audacious and iconic figure of revolution and development. After he was appointed the prime minister in 1983, he initiated programs for social, ecological, and economic change. Thomas Sankara’s household policies were concentrated on preventing famine with self-sufficiency and land reforms making Education a top priority with a nationwide campaign on literacy and improving public health.
His political notions on social progress were both creative and transformative. For him, true endogenous development was based on the various principles, which we will discuss below.
The idea of endogenous or self-centered development refers to the process of economic, social, cultural, scientific, and political modification, based on the mobilization of internal social forces and aids and using the acquired knowledge, and knowledge of the people of a country to effect development and growth in any nation. It also allows citizens to be effective agents in the
modification of their society instead of remaining onlookers outside of a political system inspired by foreign models.
At the time Leopold Sedar Senghor heard that Thomas Sankara had changed the name of his country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, and the people who live there will be called Burkinabes, he sent a letter to him saying Mr. President, this appellation does not correspond to France, therefore I will suggest that you call the population Burkineux and Burkineuse. But Thomas Sankara replied to him:
“We are not French people and we don’t want to speak French better than you. We are Africans and this appellation shall remain like this.”– Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara’s endogenous development is based on various principles among which are:
THE NEED FOR RELYING ON ONE’S STRENGTH:
With this principle, it is pertinent to note that during his reign he dismissed aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and received it from other sources. This rule of his implores people to be self-reliant and think about their strengths and how to develop themselves. This is to say that this principle is to give people confidence in themselves and make them feel they can ultimately sit down and be able to deduce what they can do right for the developmental cause. Relying on one’s strength also means submitting to live within one’s means and making the best use of available resources. This guarantees dignity and freedom.
REFUSAL TO IMITATE FOREIGN MODELS:
For development and growth according to his principle, it is advisable to come up with one’s models and strive to make changes that suit any principle endorsed rather than adopting foreign models that may not be workable in actualizing a country’s objective. According to him since independence, there has been a revamp of different development models which came from foreigners and have failed in implementation. Today, Sankara’s spirit animates African farmers who are striving to achieve food independence by transforming their local resources and guarding their food.
LIBERATING WOMEN AND MAKING THEM CENTRAL PARTAKERS IN THE DEVELOPMENT:
Another stroke from President Sankara was to understand that actual growth was impossible without the freedom of all oppressed groups, starting with women. In this regard, he stressed a society can not be transformed while maintaining domination and discrimination against women, who comprise more than half of the society.
IDENTIFYING WITH POPULAR MASS ASPIRATIONS:
According to President Sankara, he believed that for a nation to develop and experience growth one has to bear it in mind to identify with the needs of the rural and urban masses and prioritize it.
THE STATE AS A TOOL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION:
The decline in any state will lead to the deterioration of the living standards of its people as is widespread in other African countries. There is an utmost need to initiate structural adjustment programs that will help in steering the affairs of a state or nation to its desired status.
SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE SERVITUDE AND LOOTING CAUSED BY DEBT:
Until the looting of public funds is curtailed, there is no way a state can experience development and growth. He believed that unless illegitimate debts were canceled then there was no way forward. This means that these countries need to conserve all their resources to put in the service of development. Every penny that comes out of the country in the form of debt service or the repatriation of profits would be harmful to the well-being of its people.
THE STRUGGLE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION:
There is a dire need to protect the environment from pollution and gas emissions. However, a lot of African countries contribute less to global degradation by emitting low amounts of greenhouse gases. President Sankara understood the importance of the environment as an essential factor in the survival of humanity.
Even though he is no more, his ideas will continue to inspire other nations to continue the struggle and ideals for which he gave his life.