Politics, Cinema, and Liberation in Burkina Faso

About this Episode


On August 4, 1983, Captain Thomas Sankara led a coalition of radical military officers, communist activists, labor leaders, and militant students to overtake the government of the Republic of Upper Volta. Almost immediately following the coup’s success, the small West African country—renamed Burkina Faso, or Land of the Dignified People—gained international attention as it charted a new path toward social, economic, cultural, and political development based on its people’s needs rather than external pressures and Cold War politics. Join James E. Genova as he recounts in detail the revolutionary government’s rise and fall, demonstrating how it embodied the critical transition period in modern African history between the era of decolonization and the dawning of neoliberal capitalism. He will uncover one of the revolution’s most enduring and significant aspects: its promotion of film as a vehicle for raising the people’s consciousness, inspiring their efforts at social transformation, and articulating a new self-generated image of Africa and Africans. The talk is based on Genova’s new book Making New People: Politics, Cinema, and Liberation in Burkina Faso, 1983–1987 and spotlights the revolution’s lasting influence throughout Africa and the world.

Speaker: James E. Genova, Professor of History, The Ohio State University
Moderator: Nicholas Breyfogle, Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching

Cite this Site

James Genova , "Politics, Cinema, and Liberation in Burkina Faso" , Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective
April, 2023
April, 2023

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