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Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man

Robin Shuffield  |  DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man + African Leaders: Amilcar Cabral & Frantz Fanon + Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983–87
Price for all three: $68.24

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Product Details

  • Directors: Robin Shuffield
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: CreateSpace
  • DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002OEBRKC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,976 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

As Africa looks desperately for leaders of integrity and vision, the life and ideals of the late Thomas Sankara seem more and more relevant and exemplary with the passage of time. This new film should go a long way towards explaining why, though largely forgotten in this country, Sankara is still venerated on his own continent as the 'African Che,' a legendary martyr like Patrice Lumumba or Amilcar Cabral. The film recovers for the present a detailed history of Sankara's brief four-year rule and his revolutionary program for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed on Africa by the West, both then and today.

Sankara, a charismatic army captain, came to power in Burkina Faso, in 1983, in a popularly supported coup. He immediately launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this rebirth, he even renamed his country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, 'Land of Upright Men.' As soon as he took office, he reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of chauffeur-driven Mercedes and 1st class airline tickets. Like many revolutionary leaders, he banned unions, a free press, anything which might stand in the way of his plans for the immediate and radical transformation of society.

He was one of the first to recognize that key to the development of Burkina Faso and Africa was improving the status of women. He was the first African leader to appoint women to major cabinet positions and to recruit them actively for the military. He outlawed forced marriages and encouraged women to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant. He launched a nation-wide public health campaign vaccinating over 2 ½ million people in a week, a world record. He was also one of the first African environmentalists, planting over 10 million trees to retain soil and halt the growing desertification of the Sahel. He promoted local cotton production and even required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen. He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in just three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making the country food self-sufficient. He started an ambitious road and rail building program to tie the nation together, eschewing any foreign aid by relying on his country's greatest resource, the energy and commitment of its own people.

Sankara's experiment attracted intense interest far beyond Burkina Faso, posing a serious threat to the status quo, especially to France's continued dominance of its former West African colonies and to the corrupt regimes ruling these client states. Sankara spoke eloquently and unflinching in forums like the Organization of African Unity against continued neo-colonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance. He opposed foreign aid, saying that 'he who feeds you, controls you.' Decades before talk of cancellation of Africa's debt became acceptable in world banking circles, Sankara called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting.

While celebrating Sankara's achievements, this film does not ignore his tragic flaws. By 1986 Sankara's rapid, sometimes authoritarian changes had begun to alienate larger sectors of the Burkinabe population, leaving him more isolated, even from elements in his own ruling circle. Like revolutionaries as far back as the French Revolution, Sankara was so committed to achieving his ideals, he was unwilling to give them enough time to ripen in his people. As one close friend observes, 'Sankara was an impatient man,' driven by the desperation of his people.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Sankara the modern-day Revolutionary January 8, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to the readers who are interested in learning why the empirical Western Countries have a constant interest in destabilizing third world countries, especially African countries. Thomas Sankara was a modern revolutionary (1983-1987) who sought to improve the conditions of his country though non-violent, democratic means. This book shows you how the West uses proxy warriors to destroy true non-violent, democratic revolutionaries. It specifically, chronicles how the French and its proxies overthrew and assassinated Thomas Sankara because his revolution was making the country Burkina Faso truly independent. It also reveals his blueprint to insure equal rights for women, elimination of government corruption, and re-forestation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it! August 25, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
Thomas Sankara is one of my favorite men from Africa, his life and how he died I will never forgive those who took this man away from us. I have a different documentary about his life that shows a different view that I love very much, but this is a good add to the library.
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