The body of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara is to be buried Thursday alongside 12 comrades at the spot where they were assassinated in a coup three decades ago, the country’s junta has said.
No date had previously been set for the reburial, announced earlier this month.
“The burial of the remains of Captain Thomas Sankara and his twelve companions murdered on October 15, 1987 will take place on Thursday, February 23,” said Communications Minister Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo in a press release Friday.
Ouedraogo said the ceremony — which Sankara’s family have said they will not attend — will happen “on the site of the Thomas Sankara memorial”, erected on the site of his assassination.
Sankara came to power in August 1983 as an army captain, aged 33.
Nicknamed Africa’s Che Guevara, he was a fiery Marxist-Leninist who blasted the West for neo-colonialism and hypocrisy.
He changed the country’s name from the colonial-era Upper Volta to Burkina Faso — “the land of honest men” — and pushed through a range of reforms, including promoting vaccination and banning female genital mutilation.
Sankara was idolised by supporters of pan-Africanism and egalitarianism, but his tenure was short-lived.
He and a dozen other leaders were gunned down by a hit squad at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council in the capital Ouagadougou.
The killings took place on the same day that Sankara’s comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaore, seized power.
He went on to rule for 27 years, during which Sankara’s death was a strict taboo. In 2014 he was ousted by public protests.
After Compaore’s downfall, the 13 bodies were exhumed from a cemetery on the outskirts of the city for an investigation.
It led to a lengthy trial that culminated in April 2022 with life terms in absentia for Compaore and the suspected hit squad leader, and a similar term for a detained general who had been army commander at the time.
In light of this trial, the 13 should be buried “honourably,” the government said previously.