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Burkina Faso removes French colonial ruler’s name from street

Boulevard Charles de Gaulle has been renamed Boulevard Thomas Sankara, local authorities have announced

Burkina Faso’s military government has removed the name of French colonial-era leader Charles de Gaulle from a major street in the capital, Ouagadougou, replacing it with that of Thomas Sankara, a Pan-Africanist figurehead and former president.

The formal renaming of Boulevard Charles de Gaulle to Boulevard Thomas Sankara took place at a ceremony on Sunday, commemorating the 36th anniversary of Sankara’s assassination.

I pay tribute to a man of vision, an inexhaustible source who nourishes the inspiration of the African people, particularly those of Burkina Faso, in search of total sovereignty,” Burkina Faso’s transitional president, Ibrahim Traore, said after laying the foundation stone for a Thomas Sankara mausoleum, and renaming the street after him.


Similar moves to decolonize streets have been made in the ex-French colonies of Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and Senegal. Former French presidents Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Francois Mitterrand are no longer honored by boulevards in Ivory Coast – and have been replaced by the first Ivorian president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, and other local figures.

Last year, Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko removed Charles de Gaulle’s name from an avenue and renamed it ‘Peace Street’ after becoming mayor of the Ziguinchor district. Other signs bearing the names of French colonial personalities were also replaced.

Daouda Traore, retired colonel major and vice-president of the International Thomas Sankara Memorial Committee, has commended the Burkina Faso’s military rulers for the move.

Thomas Sankara is a “name that drapes this boulevard with the seal of dignity and sovereignty of our people, in keeping with our history, our spirit and our soul marked by anti-imperialist convictions,” French outlet RFI quoted Traore as saying.


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FILE PHOTO: Burkina Faso army officers patrol near a French armoured vehicle on November 20, 2021.
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Sankara, regarded as a leading figure of the revolution by his supporters, took power in a coup in 1983 but was assassinated on October 15, 1987, along with 12 of his associates, in another military takeover. Former President Blaise Compaore, who took office following the 1987 coup, was sentenced to life in prison last year for Sankara’s murder.

On Sunday, Burkina Faso’s military ruler said his “determination and commitment” to reclaiming the country’s territory are inspired by Sankara’s legacy.

October 18, 2023 at 06:26PM


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