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In August 1983, Captain Thomas Sankara seizes power in the former French colony of Upper Volta. He is helped by a commando led by his friend and brother-in-arms Blaise Compaoré. Since the independence in 1960, it is the 4th Coup d’état shaking the young nation. To understand this instability it is necessary to go back up to the times of Africans Kingdoms and Empires, to that of the Colonization, and to the Berlin Conference, in 1885. The tempestuous history of this continent carries the germs of the conflicts which punctuate even today the reality of the nations of this troubled continent.
Contrary to the precedent attempts, Sankara’s coup d’état has revolutionary objectives of Marxist inspiration: end the neo-colonial hold of France on the country, favor the equality of opportunity and the education of the masses, launch an economic reform based on the rurality of the country. One year later, Thomas Sankara changes the name of his country to BURKINA FASO, the country of the honorable Men, signifying that revolution henceforth will rhyme with development, solidarity, and especially with the end of the corruption. But what hope can the country and its people base on its militaries?
The implementation into reality of the fine principles declared in speeches is often difficult, the policies of Sankara sometimes considered too extreme. Dissidences appear, and four years after the beginning of the August Revolution, at the very moment Sankara starts to “rectify” some of his errors, he is assassinated. The country enters again the rank of the “friendly nations” of neo-colonial France. It’s his brother-in-arms Blaise Compaoré who leads the counter-revolution, even using Sankara’s concept of the necessary “rectification”.
Through interviews of eye-witnesses and actors of this period, as well as often new archive material and expert views, this documentary makes us discover the real history of a country that is often quoted as an example of stability among the former French colonies in West Africa.
While the inhabitants of Burkina-Faso continue to live with the memory of a failed revolution, the film reveals the price for the country’s stability: no democratic change –Compaoré is still in power since 1989-, no access to the wealth of the country -the ruling class owns it all-, and no real independence from the former colonial power of France. Certain observers even wonder: will there be at some point a popular awakening following the example of the latest revolts in the Arabic world?