Blaise Compaoré, The Man

Blaise Compaoré

was born in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso on February 3, 1951. He is the first son of Tiga Thérèse Bougouma and Bila Maurice Compaoré. His parents with their 7 children formed a nuclear family. The young boy spent a happy childhood with his brother and sisters between Ziniaré and Boromo (51).

blaise compaore-compaore's daughter - chantal compaore

With his wife Chantal and their daughter Djamila Imani

He still likes to remember the outings with his father hunting rabbits and hares. These precious moments were rare. His father, a Republican Guard (52) in charge of protecting high officials, was often away from home. The young Blaise very much admired his father, who had fought against Nazi Germany during World War II, returning to Burkina Faso only in 1947 (53) – then called Upper Volta. In the absence of his father, Blaise, the family’s eldest child, had to help his mother with the heavier household chores, and find solutions for the everyday cares.

Blaise Compaoré went to primary school in Guilongou, a lively neighborhood of Ziniaré (54). He then joined the Saint Joseph School run by missionaries in Fada N’Gourma east of the country, where he developed an interest in history, geography, and African proverbs – which he would cherish all his life (55). But his greatest passion remained going into the wild. He loved to ramble for hours, exploring the savannah fascinated by its wildlife (56).

blaise compaore-daughter wife chantalBlaise was very close to his mother; her early death was a tragedy for the 15-year-old boy, left behind with his six siblings.  When his father rejoined his wife only few years later, the burden he had to bear became even worse. He and the children had to fend for themselves all alone. Being the eldest and despite financial hardship, the young Blaise assumed the responsibility for his family.

blaise compaore-daughterIn 1969, Blaise passed the entrance exam of the prestigious high school, l’Ecole Normale de Ouagadougou (E.N.O.), where he obtained a scientific baccalaureate degree (Bac. D) in 1972. He followed in the footsteps of his father and enrolled in the army in 1973; his earnings provided subsistence for his family (58).

A tireless sportsman, he played at the same time handball, basketball and football in the national military teams. In September 1973, he entered l’École Militaire Inter-Armées, in Yaoundé, Cameroon (59). He chose to become a paratrooper officer in 1974. He received para commando training in Montpellier (France, 1975-1976) and became a paratrooper instructor in Rabat (Morocco, 1978). Captain Compaoré went twice on an advanced para commando training course in Pau (France, 1982) (60). During his stay abroad, he cultivated interest in different types of architecture, in particular for Le Corbusier’s social housing and Niemeyer’s Brasilia (61).

In 1985, Blaise Compaoré married Franco-Ivorian Chantal Terrasson de Fougères. He is a devoted father to their daughter Djamila Imani, and he is pledged to his country Burkina Faso. His profound knowledge of anything in connection with his country has always impressed his audiences (: Wikileaks (62)).

The founder of modern Burkina and a tireless builder, he had a sub-regional vision for the country’s development (:International Crisis Group (63)). Either admired or hated, he is respected for his leadership capacities (64).

Extremely discreet and balanced, few know the man behind the statesman (65).

blaise compaore-burkinabe people