Ayodeji Adefila


Many revolutionary leaders talk the talk but don’t always walk the walk, but with Sankara his revolutionary principles guided his own life. At the time of his death he had a salary of $450 a month and his most valuable possessions were a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer. He was the world’s poorest president but indeed its richest revolutionary. It been 20 years since the assassination of Sankara and 12 of his aides in October 1987.
Born Thomas Isidore NoÎl Sankara into a Silmi-Mossi family in northern Burkina Faso town of Yako on 21 December 1949, his Roman Catholic parents wanted him to become a priest but he opted instead for a military career, a path that many Africans of his generation pursued as a route to a better life. In 1970 at the age of 20, Sankara was sent for officer training in Madagascar where he witnessed a popular uprising of students and workers that succeeded in toppling Madagascar’s government. Before returning to Burkina Faso in 1972 Sankara attended a parachute academy in France where he was exposed to left-wing political ideologies – particularly as they related to France’s neo-colonial relations with her former colonies. In 1974 he earned much public notoriety for his heroic performance in the border war with Mali, but years later he renounced the war as “useless and unjust” a reflection of his growing political consciousness. By 1976 his ascending military career brought him to the town of Po where he took command of the new National Training Centre for Commandos.

By early 1980s, the country was rocked with series of labour union strikes and military coups. Sankara’s military achievements and charismatic leadership style made him a popular choice for political appointments but his personal and political integrity put him at odds with the leadership of the successive military governments that came to power. In 1980 he was singled out for a government appointment by army chief of staff Col Saye Zerbo who seized control of the country in a military coup in November of that year and formed a new government, the Military Committee for the Enhancement of National Progress (CMRPN) Sankara refused to join the CMRPN, but was nonetheless given a post in Zerbo’s government. Sankara temporarily accepted the position but later resigned which led to his arrest in April 1982, along with Blaise CompaorÈ and their fellow comrade Henri Zongo.
The increasingly repressive CMRPN was shortly thereafter removed from power by another coup which led to the formation of the Council for the Salvation of the People (CSP) headed by Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo In early 1983 Sankara was selected as the prime minister by the CSP which provided him with an entryway into international politics and a chance to meet with leaders of the Nonaligned Movement, including Fidel Castro (Cuba) Samora Machel (Mozambique) and Maurice Bishop (Grenada). That same year Sankara’s anti-imperialist stance and grassroots popularity once again put him at odds with the more conservative elements within the CSP including President Ouedraogo. In an internal coup Sankara was removed as prime minister and jailed. In response to mass demonstrations demanding Sankara’s release the CSP compromised by putting him under house arrest in the capital Ouagadougou.
On 4 August 1983 CompaorÈ along with some 250 other soldiers freed Sankara, overthrew the CSP and formed the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) with Sankara as its president. In Sankara’s words the August revolution was best understood as having “a dual character: It is a democratic and popular revolution. Its primary tasks are to liquidate imperialist domination, exploitation and cleanse the countryside of all social, economic and cultural obstacles that keep it in a backward state. From this flows its democratic character, Sankara initially focused on applying the philosophy of the revolution to transforming the national army improving policies concerning women and economic development. A year after Sankara took office Burkina Faso became the first country in Africa to run mass measles vaccination campaigns that year with the aid of Cuban volunteers, 2.5 million children were immunised for several infectious diseases and even children from neighbouring countries were vaccinated. The alarming infant mortality rates dropped to 145 deaths per 1,000 in less than two years. In an effort to slow the advance of the Sahara Desert, Sankara launched a reforestation programme that planted 10 million trees in its first year.

thomas sankara
Even today trees are planted to celebrate birthdays, weddings and graduations School attendance rose from 12% to 22% in just two years and was complemented by policies to encourage attendance and eventual graduation. A campaign for the restoration of women’s dignity and recognition of their role in society was launched in order to free women from the yoke of patriarchal domination. During Sankara’s presidency Burkina Faso was a leader in employing women in government posts. In a symbolic attempt to demonstrate to men what the daily realities of women’s lives were like, he declared a day of solidarity with housewives and forced men to go to market and take responsibility for household duties Sankara refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxuries were only available to a few BurkinabÈs. He refused to allow his portrait to be displayed all over the country in order to prevent a cult of personality developing around him. Shortly after coming to power he sold the government’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz and purchased affordable and easy to maintain Renault.
Sankara’s pragmatism and commitment to fiscal responsibility is still remembered: in 2003 critics of the Kenyan government’s purchase of 12 million dollars in luxury cars advised the government to follow the example set by Sankara. The most appropriate way we can honour the lives and struggles of our slain heroes is to pick up where they left off.
Sankara fought and paved ways on how we can make our countries and Africa a better place.

Thomas Sankara (Dec1949 -Oct 1987)
Thomas Sankara (Dec1949 -Oct 1987)


This article was first featured on TravelStart Kenya.

Africa is well known for its raw beauty and exotic scenery. If it is not the gorgeous tropical weather, it is the lush greenery that makes up most of the continent, or it is the unspeakably breath taking sand dunes that take hold of our deserts; or maybe it is the rough terrain and high mountains that touch the sky? Or the pristine white sand on our beaches being lapped up by salty, turquoise colored sea water. Whatever the reason, more and more film producers from all over the world have started seeing this continent as the next best location for shooting big blockbuster movies.
Just recently, Netflix shot one of its best performing series’ so far (Sense 8) on location in Nairobi, Kenya. That is not all, ‘Homeland‘, one of the best shows ever to grace our TV’s had a street scene shot in Cape Town CBD. So did ‘Black Sails’ and a host of other popular TV shows. Thanks to the beautiful climate, exceptionally friendly people and gorgeous landscapes that will have you gasping for air, Africa has become a prime location for movies and big budget series. Our beautiful Motherland is set to grace our silver screens more frequently now as more and more producers realize that we have that ‘picture perfect’ kind of land. That being said, here are 10 of the famous movies you didn’t know were filmed in Africa:

Out of Africa: 1985 (Kenya)

Out of Africa
Photo Source: wwwcinemastyle blog

Arguably the one film that portrays Kenya’s awe-inspiring beauty the way it should be portrayed. Shot on location in Karen and the Maasai Mara, Out of Africa is a film based on the life of Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) and the exploits she had on her coffee plantation and colonial Kenya. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford bring the best out of this film that is teaming with love, conflict, colonial politics and betrayal. As good as the story is, it is the beautiful shots of the spectacular Kenyan plains that will get you!

Mad Max: Fury Road: 2015 (Namibia)

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Currently in Cinemas, Mad Max: Fury Road is set to be one of the most popular movies this year. Fury Road is the 4th installment of Mad Max and it stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Based on a post-apocalyptic world, Mad Max: Fury Road was shot on location in Namibia after the original Australian location became too lush and flower filled to suit the kind of dystopian sand filled carnage that goes on in the film.

Lord of War: 2005 (South Africa)

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Lord of War tells the story of Yuri Orlov, played by Nicholas Cage, an infamous arms dealer who thrived in the most war tone and conflict ridden parts of the world. It was shot in Cape Town and it captures a side of Africa that many have come to know (War, corruption and dictators). That, notwithstanding, the picturesque shots of South Africa in this film will drive you wild with awe.

Blood Diamond: 2006 (Mozambique/ South Africa)

Blood Diamond
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Leonardo Dicaprio plays a rogue mercenary in this film set in war tone Sierra Leone in 1999. He teams up with Solomon Vandy, played by Djimon Hounsou, who plays a Mende fisherman, to recover a huge pink diamond that will set them both free from their different sets of problems. There is war, love for family, moral gray areas and conflict in this film. It portrays an ugly side of Africa and humanity as whole, it does however portrays exceptionally beautiful terrain in Mozambique and South Africa.

The Last King of Scotland: 2006 (Uganda)

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Forest Whitaker plays ‘Idi Amin’, Uganda’s most infamous dictator. The story is told by Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, played by James McAvoy, who was hired as the dictator’s physician. He leads us through Amin’s life and through most of rural and urban Uganda as it were in 1971. Of course, the lush terrain and beautiful African weather does not disappoint.

African Queen: 1951 (Uganda and Congo)

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An amusing adventure between a riverboat captain, played by Humphrey Bogart and a missionary spinster, Katharine Hepburn. The bunter, the scenery and the thrilling adventure that ensures here is nothing short of classically entertaining. So, if you are a fan of classic films, you might want to look this up and enjoy.

Cry Freetown: 1999 (Sierra Leone)

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Not to be confused with Cry Freedom (set in Zimbabwe), Cry Freetown tells the story of the civil war in Sierra Leone in 1999. Told by local journalist, Sorious Samura, this is a film that will yank your heart out of your chest and make you doubt the good in humanity. It does however, showcase a beautiful, albeit, war tone Sierra Leone.

The Constant Gardener: 2005 (Kenya)


Shot in Nairobi, this is the story of Justin Quayle, played by Ralph Fiennes. Quayle was a UK diplomat trying to explain his wife’s murder. His wife, played by Rachael Weisz, was an amnesty activists who was investigating a dangerous drug trial that would have implicated and exposed the torrid malpractices of a huge pharmaceutical company. The film feature Kibera, Kenya’s hugest slam and beautiful shots of Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital.

Invictus: 2009 (South Africa)

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You probably knew this one was shot in South Africa. It is a story surrounding the events that led to South Africa’s 1996 Rugby World Cup victory. Morgan Freeman portrays a charismatic Nelson Mandela who motivates the South African ‘Springbok’ rugby team and all but demands that they win the Rugby World Cup in the name of the national pride and unity. Matt Damon plays Francois Pienaar, the team Captain. It is shot on location in beautiful Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Robben Island.

Hotel Rwanda: 2004 (Rwanda and South Africa)

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This heart wrenching film will restore your faith in humanity as a Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabinga, a humanitarian hotel manager in Kigali who saved hundreds of Tutsi and Hutu refugees from certain death during the genocide. Born a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother, Paul put his own life in danger to save his fellow countrymen from marauding militia members who looked to tear the country apart. This film was shot on location in Kigali, Rwanda and South Africa.
The physical beauty and amazing climate in Africa makes it the perfect continent for many movie sets. Adventure films like Tomb Raider II had scenes from Kenya’s very own Hell’s Gate National Park as well as Amboseli. More and more film producers, both local and international, are realizing that these beautiful scenes make for picture perfect silver screen moments and are heading to Africa for gorgeous footage for their big blockbuster movies.
If you have seen a wonderful film, both locally or internationally produced and shot on location in Africa, do not hesitate to share that with us in the comment section below. Also tell us your favorite scene from a big blockbuster film shot in your country.





      Maybe like me, we have at a time quizzed ourselves: what will happen? If a lion so tender and young could be termed a cub is placed with a likewise contemporary calf; what will happen? Well I’m sure that answer is right too, if you did provide any that is. But whatever it is, I hope it’s good enough to point out the fact that we need not associate ourselves with a seemingly unending battle of the strong. Is survival hence tarnished? Certainly not! In fact survival becomes the basis for a united front and maybe biology gets to revise its course of evolution all over again.
Dwelling in the past, sometimes makes us focus majorly on the not so good moments, a critical case of wrong decision and a subsequent course of action. Invariably we tend to revive questions that do not get the right answers which is not based on our ineptitude but that we have rightly placed ourselves with the wrong audience, hence, what we get instead of answers are just platitudes, the perfect reason for a continued battle of the strong – News Flash: We endured, We survived, We’re moving forward. This is only true when we are ready to let our past be our past, when it no longer precede our actions, when we let the actions of our most respected figures remain their actions, when we take to our future en masse, when we no longer do what we can but what we should, when we allow ourselves be rid of corrupt practices frowning at acts in the same vein and doing what we should to curb it, when we are ready to work and walk in tandem which should be subject to oneness of spirit and above all when we are ready to love our fellow citizens just like ourselves. Then, would we have learned from wanting to survive and amassed for ourselves enough strength needed to rewrite the course of evolution and strength they say is in large numbers.
The jungle as we know it is big enough for the survival of the cub and the calf but it is going to take unity and open mindedness to tough the poison of hatred. If we must survive, we must see ourselves not just as citizens but also as equals working in tandem toward our survival and this is substantial enough to eliminate our fears of the thicker jungle (future). When we have survived, what we leave behind is our legacy, which in turn fosters a new, and a sustained way of life.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlighten about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Yes! We are powerful beyond measure to climb the tallest of trees, swim the deepest of rivers, and survive the most violent of storms, powerful enough to tough whatever the jungle terms hardship. Powerful enough to be whatever we want!
Go out there and live your dream.


imagesIt’s quite sad to read and hear some journalist sound so ignorant when they make reports about Africa. Tired of reading articles and write ups that showcase Africa to the world like a continent 80% filled with hungry people. Poor living condition, famine, epidemics and political unrest seem to be the major news about Africa. In a bid, embarking on a journey of thoughts wondering how to connect Africans to share and tell their stories themselves and how every beautiful nook and cranny of Africa can be shown to everyone in the world, the idea behind 54Africa came to life and it led to the establishment of this platform called 54Africa.

54Africa is a platform that represents a voyage that is meant to bring young, goal-oriented, skilful, enterprising and result achieving Africans together, who are willing to interact their ideas, showcase their beautiful country and share their opinions on issues concerning happenings in Africa as well as their glorious experience in different African communities.
A place for everyone to tell and share beautiful stories about their various beautiful countries ranging from culture, lifestyles, literature, business, arts, inspirations, developing economics, music and more
54Africa is open to everyone. You don’t have to be a professional writer before you can share your view about anything African. Let us all show our beautiful, rich and greatly diverse continent to the world in ways and forms never seen before.
You can be part of this huge base by sending in your beautiful stories and articles you got for everyone to You can also check out our Facebook page, Instagram: the54africa and also twitter

It’s Africa by Africans.

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