Thomas Sankara’s Speech at the United Nations / Discours de Thomas Sankara aux Nations Unies

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

On October 4th, 1984, Thomas Sankara addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was a historical speech, as only he, the great orator, could speak. It was moving, it was strong, and it was good. Below is an extract of his speech. For the whole speech, go to Enjoy!!!


“I speak on behalf of the millions of human beings … thrown out of work by a system that is structurally unjust and periodically unhinged, who are reduced to only glimpsing in life a reflection of the lives of the affluent. I speak on behalf of women the world over, who suffer from a male-imposed system of exploitation. … Women who struggle and who proclaim with us that the slave who is not able to take charge of his own revolt deserves no pity for his lot. This harbors illusions in the dubious generosity of a master pretending to set him free. Freedom can be won only through struggle, and we call on all our sisters of all races to go on the offensive to conquer their rights.

Sankara_Women's liberationI speak on behalf of the mothers of our destitute countries who watch their children die of malaria or diarrhea, unaware that simple means to save them exist. The science of the multinationals does not offer them these means, preferring to invest in cosmetics laboratories and plastic surgery to satisfy the whims of a few women or men whose smart appearance is threatened by too many calories in their overly rich meals, the regularity of which would make you—or rather us from the Sahel—dizzy. We have decided to adopt and popularize these simple means, recommended by the WHO and UNICEF.

I speak, too, on behalf of the child. The child of a poor man who is hungry and who furtively eyes the accumulation of abundance in a store for the rich. The store protected by a thick plate glass window. The window protected by impregnable shutters. The shutters guarded by a policeman with a helmet, gloves, and armed with a billy club. The policeman posted there by the father of another child, who will come and serve himself—or rather be served—because he offers guarantees of representing the capitalistic norms of the system, which he corresponds to.

"We are heirs of the revolution" by Thomas Sankara
“We are heirs of the revolution” by Thomas Sankara

I speak on behalf of artists—poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, and actors—good men who see their art prostituted by the alchemy of show-business tricks.

I cry out on behalf of journalists who are either reduced to silence or to lies in order to not suffer the harsh low of unemployment.

I protest on behalf of the athletes of the entire world whose muscles are exploited by political systems or by modern-day slave merchants.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso

My country is brimming with all the misfortunes of the people of the world, a painful synthesis of all humanity’s suffering, but also—and above all—of the promise of our struggles. This is why my heart beats naturally on behalf of the sick who anxiously scan the horizons of science monopolized by arms merchants. My thoughts go out to all of those affected by the destruction of nature and to those 30 million who will die as they do each year, struck down by the formidable weapon of hunger. As a military man, I cannot forget the soldier who is obeying orders, his finger on the trigger, who knows the bullet being fired bears only the message of death. …. I protest on behalf of all those who vainly seek a forum in this world where they can make their voice heard and have it genuinely taken into consideration. Many have preceded me at this podium and others will follow. But only a few will make the decisions. Yet we are officially presented as being equals. Well, I am acting as spokesperson for all those who vainly see a forum in this world where they can make themselves heard. So yes, I wish to speak on behalf of all “those left behind,” for “I am human, nothing that is human is alien to me.”

Flag of Burkina Faso
Flag of Burkina Faso

Our revolution in Burkina Faso embraces misfortunes of all peoples. It also draws inspiration from all of man’s experiences since his first breath. We wish to be the heirs of all the world’s revolutions and all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. Our eyes are on the profound upheavals that have transformed the world. We draw the lessons of the American Revolution, the lessons of its victory over colonial domination and the consequences of that victory. We adopt as our own the affirmation of the Doctrine whereby Europeans must not intervene in American affairs, nor Americans in European affairs. Just as Monroe proclaimed “America to the Americans” in 1823, we echo this today by saying “Africa to the Africans,” “Burkina to the Burkinabè.”

20 thoughts on “Thomas Sankara’s Speech at the United Nations / Discours de Thomas Sankara aux Nations Unies

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  4. Dr. Tiago

    It seems unbelievable how a man was able to look far ahead, to guess the deep and true implications of international maneuvres; he depicted the only possible developing programme for his nation and African Nations.
    It is unbelievable how he has been silenced. It is unbelievable how the world is calling some nations “the democratic nations” that are even proclaiming that they want to export democracy. No words and may God give us somebody again like Sankara.


  5. Damian Eze

    What is Africa’ s problem?
    The challenges confronting us today are the same and the means to solving them are very clear for all to see. Why then do we keep moving round and round, day after day, month after month and year after year without taking those clear cut routs as formulated by the great Sankara? Why?


    1. Very good question Damian. I think the biggest problem is the division in our midst! That is what Amilcar Cabral called “The Cancer of Betrayal”. We are not united. We let our good leaders be crushed by the west, or we are used against our people to crush them. Like you said, the solutions are so clear, but yet, we are still down there! Can you imagine that a country with as much resources as Congo does not have roads linking its main cities to each other? Why is that? the vultures are at work, and unfortunately, we are not united! and we have been made to think in individualistic terms: my pockets first, my money… no patriotism. Well, there are other problems, of course, but I think this is the main one!


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  9. Ras

    True real son of the soil of Africa we need 100 more of Tom sank today what he said in his time, we see it clear today may God send us Tom sank again not only for his birth country but for Africa as whole.Yes we had good black man not what we got now men without balls en brains .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was a true inspirational leader. I did a research on him. When he became president, he didn’t want luxury like the others before him. He got a simple car and had no chauffeurs, he even lowered his salary…and the reason? He wanted to use the money for the betterment of his people and not to enrich himself. “He refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxury was not available to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.”
    I admire his leadership qualities. This man taught me that leadership is all about being selfless and considering the needs of other people before one’s own. He was in his thirties when he became president but he was far more intelligent and courteous than the elder leaders Africa has today.

    There are people who were meant to lead others and I believe without a doubt was one of them.
    He said in one of his quotes: “To Lead is To Serve.” In deed he served his people. His legacy should live on!


  11. Reblogged this on African Heritage and commented:

    As it is our tradition on, every year on October 15th, we celebrate the life of the great president of Burkina Faso. Today, I live you with a jewel, his speech at the United Nations on 4 October 1984. Enjoy!


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