Thomas Sankara is no longer a name that evokes bafflement, confusion, faint recognition. There is renewed interest in the life, struggles and work of this West African revolutionary. Much of the interest in Sankara, who was murdered at the age of 37 in Burkina Faso, the small landlocked West African country, stems from what has been happening in other parts of the world. Revolutions and revolts have overturned despotic, autocratic regimes, while elsewhere radical reformist, anti-austerity governments have come to power (or attempt to) and raised fundamental questions of social transformation. In Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece – and Burkina Faso’s own extraordinary revolution last year – questions have been raised that we were told no longer applied to the world of the Washington Consensus, realpolitik’s and austerity: How can a country’s resources be mobilised for its own social needs? Can an alternative globalisation emerge to challenge the diktats of the market? What sort of regional cooperation, between progressive movements, can help sustain a radical reformist agenda in a single state? What do the actual anti-market reforms look like and how do we prioritise poor communities, those marginalised and impoverished by structural adjustment? What role does mass mobilisations and popular revolt play in the project of radical transformation? How do we prevent the positive and popular energies engendered by these revolts, radical reforms and revolutions from dissipating and being taken over by other, reactionary or conservative social forces? What is the role of ideology and political philosophy in the emerging struggles and new politics? These questions, relegated for many decades, have again become the order of the day, not just in the Global South but increasingly in the austerity hit north. At the start of the age of austerity on the African continent in the early 1980s, Thomas Sankara emerged as a leading figure to challenge the cynical class of leaders who had led the new states on the continent from independence. Within a very short period he became the figurehead of the confrontation of a people to the demands of structural adjustment, multinationals, the terrible power of Françafrique and imperialism. Flawed, top-down, severe, unyielding Sankara remains a central figure in our struggles to transform the present.