Twenty four years after its independence, the Republic of Upper Volta changed its name to Burkina Faso.
The name change took place on this day, exactly a year after Thomas Sankara became president through a military coup de tat.
The colonial power had named the country Upper Volta, thanks to the flow of the Volta River and thus the people in the region were known as Voltaics. The flag at the time reflected the Volta and its tributaries: red, black and white.
Sankara changed the name to reflect the personality of the people. Burkina means ‘men of integrity’ in Moore language and Faso means ‘fatherland’ in Diouala. The people of the region are thus called the Burkinabe, with the ‘be’ meaning ‘men and women’ in the Foufoulde language.
In this way, Sankara was able to incorporate the three main languages of the region and to represent the people’s true nature.
He also changed the flag to incorporate the pan African colours in a bid to break away from the country’s colonial past. It features red and green stripes with a yellow star placed over them.
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