In October 1987, a week before Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara was assassinated in a coup, he memorably said: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.” He was right, on both counts, and one of the places his particular brand of revolutionary thought would find a home, about 30 years later, was with Julius Malema’s EFF. “We are a proudly Sankarist organisation,” the party’s Jackie Shandu wrote in May 2014. Sankara joins a long list of revolutionaries the EFF cites as inspiration; among them Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevara. There are other influences — that of West Indian psychoanalyst and philosopher Frantz Fanon, for example — and together they make up the EFF’s cut-and-paste ideology. It’s a messy affair, but the general thrust is simple enough: an overturning of the state and, in its place, a new order, underpinned by radical policies designed to uplift the poor and marginalised. Sankara is a hero to many, often referred to as “Africa’s Ch...

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