Born on December 21, 1949, at Yako in the dusty north of what was then Upper Volta, Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara was 12 when his homeland attained independence from France.

As a leader of his country through an August coup in 1983, Sankara would rename the country, Burkina Faso, or “land of the upright people”, and introduce progressist policies that distanced his regime from other former colonies in what France regarded as its backyard in Africa.

The Burkinabe Head of State was a lean and good-looking soldier with a ready smile. A lover of football and other sports, he was also a hard-working authoritarian who slept little and always wore battledress, with a mother-of-pearl pistol tucked into his belt — a gift from North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

Thomas Sankara
(FILES) This picture taken on September 2, 1986, during a non-aligned summit in Harare, shows Captain Thomas Sankara, then President of Burkina Faso, during a press conference. He was assassinated in 1987 during a coup. AFP PHOTO DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Sankara as Africa’s Che Guevara

He lived with his wife and two sons in a rundown presidential palace and his main worldly goods were a guitar and a second-hand Renault 5.

How well do you know Sankara? We have compiled the top 13 interesting facts you may not know about “Africa’s Che Guevara” in this video.

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