Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara is an inspirational icon in my life, the life of people of Burkina Faso and the youth through his work of integrity, zealousness and competition. He was born on 21st December 1949 and died on the 15th October 1978 at age 37. Thomas Sankara went through military training and later on became the Prime Minster of Burkina Faso. He became the youngest president in Africa in the year 1983. He changed the name of his country from Upper Volt to Burkina Faso, which means ‘the land of the upright people’ after the victory of being an independent country from France’s colonialism.

Thomas’s character makes him an inspiration in my life because of his ideology of Pan-Africanism. He emphasised the importance of people recognising their mother tongue and speaking it, the importance of embracing our traditions and culture. He was against the practice of tribalism as he promoted equality for all people.

Thomas Sankara’s values included honesty, accountability and transparency, which personally I value the most. As an iconic leader, through his value he was against bribery, nepotism, extortion and any other forms of corruption in the government. He eradicated corruption, decreased government officials’ salaries, including his own, and made them to change their cars from Mercedes to Renault.

As a feminist, Thomas Sankara’s ideology of feminism inspired and provoked me to be an independent woman. During his governance he employed women to government positions. He encouraged them to use their skills to create employment for themselves. He trained women to take part in the military and he advocated for women rights. He was against forced marriages, polygamy and patriarchy. He also valued the fundamentals of education.

Captain Sankara conducted a national campaign for literacy awareness, emphasising the importance of staying in school. Regarding home circumstances, he built schools using the community as labourers and employed influential teachers.

What makes Mr Sankara iconic and inspirational is he was a foot soldier of change. He led by example and believed in community labour and the power of working together. Thomas Sankara promoted reforestation, planting a maximum of 10 million trees. He promoted agricultural activities such as wheat production and cotton production. He also built railway lines to link communities so they could be able to access work. He was also concerned about the health system of his country, meaning he went against all odds to enhance vaccination methods for infants and children suffering from death causing diseases which are meningitis, yellow fever and measles.

What makes Thomas Sankara an icon is his self-reliance, principles, the ability to be a ripple of influence. He portrayed charismatic personality, took calculate risks, was impatient when it came to his country’s development, was able to take constructive criticism and did not believe in self-praise. He said: “You are all Thomas Sankara,” giving an answer to a reporter who asked why he did not want his portraits to be hanged. Captain Sankara’s leadership skills also included courage, perseverance and selflessness.