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Review: Sankara: The Fall and Rise of an African Hero, at Cockpit Theatre

Bold drama tells the story of charismatic African revolutionary Thomas Sankara

06 April, 2018 — By Angela Cobbinah

Providing a valuable insight into a man whose message remains as relevant today as it was then – Sankara

THEY say you can kill a man but you cannot kill an idea. That’s the message of a bold drama about Thomas Sankara, who staged a Cuban-style revolution in Upper Volta in 1983, was assassinated four years later but whose ideals continue to inspire fresh generations.

Thomas who? You still might ask. Outside of Africa Sankara is little known and writer and director Riccardo Dujany’s other purpose is to give him his place in history.

Told by a versatile ensemble of seven actors and some archive film footage, the play uses direct quotes from Sankara’s many speeches that mobilised the masses and signalled a complete break with the neo-colonial order. If that sounds rather forbidding, it is not. Sankara was a quick wit and there is a lot of humour, plus live music from the Levi Roots band.

Aside from being a dead ringer for Sankara, Ike Chuks in the lead captures the charisma and idealism of the young president who renamed his country Burkina Faso – meaning “land of the upright people” – and travels by bike.

However, calling visiting IMF officials “economic hit men” is one thing, showing them the door is another and pressure piles up against his government. Sankara remains steadfast but his ministers begin to wilt. In the end, it is his childhood friend, Blaise Compaoré (Chris Machari), who betrays him like a Shakespearean villain.

With the advance of economic globalisation, Sankara provides a valuable insight into a man whose message remains as relevant today as it was then.

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