Brian J. Peterson (Union College, NY)

This was the 4th edition of the annual conference commemorating the life and political thought of Thomas Sankara. It took place on December 19 from 3:45 to 7:00 p.m. at the spacious Festival Center at 1640 Columbia Road NW in Washington D.C. The conference was organized and presided over by professor Gnaka Lagoke. Originally from Ivory Coast, Lagoke is the founder of The Revival of Panafricanism Forum.

In attendance at the conference were members of the Sankara family, including Paul Sankara, Pascal Sankara and Lydie Sankara. There was a full house of roughly 100 individuals, mostly of African or African-American descent, who are interested in politics and Sankara’s legacy within and outside Burkina Faso. There were many young people, especially students, present. The group was naturally predominated by those from West Africa. The conference proceedings were all delivered in English, and after the presentations there was a lengthy discussion in which the microphone was passed around for people to ask questions and offer their opinions. The conference was concluded with a warm reception and sumptuous African food and drinks.

After Dr. Lagoke provided his opening remarks and introduced the panel, the speakers at the conference included: writer and activist Bill Fletcher (and host of “Global African”), Dr. Ernest Harsch (Adjunct Associate Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University), Omari Musa (Socialist Workers Party), and Dr. Nadia Marsch (Answer Coalition). Here are the links to the presentations:


Dr. Lagoke and Bill Fletcher



Dr. Nadia Marsch and Omari Musa



Dr. Ernest Harsch and discussion



The nominal topic for the conference was “The Future of Thomas Sankara’s Legacy in a Democratic Burkina Faso after the victory of the president-elect Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.” However, the presentations and ensuing discussion ranged widely over various topics.

Endorsers for the conference included: Institute for Policy Studies, Revival of Panafricanism Forum, Friends of the Congo, All-African Revolutionary Party, Le Balai Citoyen-USA, Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progres-USA, Socialist Workers Party, ABURWA (Burkina Faso Citizens Association in Washington, DC), ANSWER Coalition, and Party for Socialism & Liberation.

It was a successful event and it promises to grow in stature and importance by the 5th annual conference.

Brian J. Peterson (Union College, NY)

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