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Burkina Faso - Bani - mosque

We pass through the nearby town of Banfora – how many bikes! I’ve never seen so many. We even see one get hit by a car, but the cyclist carries on without apparent injury. We cross the Ouagadougou-Abidjan railway a couple of times. It only runs three times a week, and you can see that the locals know roughly when it’s expected, and when they don’t need to look before crossing. The market runs the whole length of the town.

Bad news awaits us in the hippo-spotting paradise of Tengrela – a few months earlier, a boat capsized, and its passengers drowned. Now it’s only permitted to boat on the lake if you’re wearing a life jacket, and the life jackets haven’t arrived yet, or something of that sort. A big disappointment: it seems it’s our fate not to spot a hippo.

Solo (our host and eventual tour guide) is unworried. He shows us some tame crocodiles, and we get our pictures taken with them. He is also informed of where precisely the hippos are to be found and takes us there. Our hunt is at an end, and we spend about half an hour watching a five-member hippo family wallowing, bellowing, and playing with their three offspring. (2017)


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, Burkina Faso is otherwise known as the land of the honest or perhaps incorruptible men. Interestingly, no mention is made of the women, but doubtless, they resist corruptibility as stringently. In my experience, the people do seem very honest in their day-to-day lives, but I’m saying nothing about the politicians and petty officials.

Staying at the Royal Beach Hotel in Ouagadougou probably contributed to my confusion. I sat on the beach for absolute ages waiting for the tide to come in but no sign of the sea. It was only latterly that It found out that the sea was about five hundred miles away. Any sign of surf should definitely ring alarm bells.

The lingua franca, aptly enough, is French. There are loads of other languages in the country as it is yet another one of those artificial entities brought about by colonialism, in this case, by the French. The French basically did and did screw it and never say please or thank you.

If you want to try and say something tries a little of the Mòoré language, “Yam Kibaré?” (How are you?) And your response: “Laafi Bala, La Yamba?” (I am fine, and you?). There you go, everything you need to converse with the locals. Start by trying to say the name of the capital city Ouagadougou; it's easier than you think the secret is a relaxed mouth. The secret of a relaxed mouth is the beer, of which the locals drink a considerable amount.
Some people suggested greeting people by saying Jambo. Now I think this is Swahili, a language from the other side of the continent. I tried, and it got a good response but no better than saying Manchester United.

The country is dominated by the Mossi ethnic group, a tribe of brilliant horsemen (which may account for the profusion of betting shops. The Mossi repelled slave raiders and other rivals and remained intact for 400 years until their kingdom fell to the French. The French brought “civilization” via the barrel of a gun.

Burkina Faso is relatively green in the south. Still, much of the country is arid, not helped by the march of the Sahara to the south, droughts, plagues of locusts, the usual biblical stuff, global warming, and such attributes that make Greta Thunberg tear out her hair, me too if I had any.

Conclusions

It's a very interesting, if somewhat high maintenance place to visit, and who knows how long you might be able to do it. You probably need to be of an adventurous nature if you want to visit. If you do, use organized safaris and don’t wander too far off the beaten track. Enjoy, the elephants are cool. '' (Alan Durant, 2020)




Practicals

Transport

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Burkina Faso - cow cart

Burkina Faso - bush taxi (taxi brousse) - breakdowns are very common - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - traffic - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - taxis - k.a. photo

Accomodation

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Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Hotel Sopatel Silmandé

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - the 3-star Hotel L'Auberge - k.a. photo

Food

Most food in Burkina Faso comes with sauce. They eat many sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, bean, yams, and okra. Having said this, try the garlic chicken if you want a treat. However, if you don’t have an iron constitution, approach the street food stalls with great caution, better to stick to vegetables if you decide to risk it. (Alan Durant, 2020)

Burkina Faso - eating together from a bowl - d.e. photo

Shopping

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Burkina Faso - textile market

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - souvenir shop - k.a. photo

Fun

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Burkina Faso - Finland in Africa - k.a. photo

Public safety

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Burkina Faso - policemen in their new uniforms

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Hotel Splendid - attacked by terrorists in 2016 - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Banfor area - Lake Tengrela - kids in the water about 20 meters from dangerous hippos - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - City Hall burned in a riot - k.a. photo

Health

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Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - propaganda for family planning - A wise man plans his family - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - more a cesspool than a river - k.a. photo

Others

The country has a very poor electric network outside of urban areas. Burkina Faso’s electrification remains one of the lowest in the entire Africa with only 56% of urban areas and a meagre 1% of rural areas getting electricity. It’s good if you enjoy a good game of dark hide and seek but otherwise it can be a bit of a pain. (Alan Durant, 2020)

Burkina Faso - small town mosque

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - old mosque

Burkina Faso - a village in the south-west -k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - water pump - Water is poured directly into the bucket that the ladies then carrying on their head back home - k.a. photo

Background

Burkina Faso - national flag

Destination in brief

Burkina Faso in brief
 
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in the heart of West Africa, located in the so-called Sahel region, which separates the Sahara Desert to the north from the tropical savannas to the south. Neighbors: Mali (north and west), Niger (west), Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast (south) 
 
Burkina Faso was a French colony until 1960 and was then called Upper Volta.
 
The name Burkina Faso translates as “land of honest men.” While most of the country’s people are indeed trustworthy and reliable, Burkina Faso’s political and business elite does not seem to be ready to embrace these virtues yet – they are clearly as corrupt as their counterparts in most other African countries.
 
Size: 274,200 km² (105,869 mi²)
 
Capital city: Ouagadougou (pronounced “wagadoogoo”)
 
Population: 20.6 million (2020) - Burkina Faso has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. The average Burkinabe woman has 6 children. As a consequence, the population has increased five-fold in the past 50 years.
 
Burkina Faso is one of Africa’s least urbanized societies. About 75% of its people still live in the countryside. To this day, drummers accompany farmers at planting and harvesting times to cheer the workers on.
 
Language: French, but the majority of the population speaks Moré, a local language.
 
Religion: 62% Muslim (mostly Sunni), 22% Christian (mostly Catholic), 4% animists –The proportion of animists (nature religions) is however estimated by some to be much higher, as many Muslims secretly practice ancient animist rituals at home.
 
Political system: semi-presidential republic, multi-party system
 
Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF)
 
Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 140 USD
 
Burkina Faso is 4th on the list of the poorest countries of the world in fiscal terms. 
 
Child labor and modern-day slavery are widespread across the country.
 
Most common surname:  Ouedraogo
 
 
Safety: Not much crime overall, but there are some terrorist actions (including kidnappings) in some northern parts of the country.
 
 
As a tourist destination, Burkina Faso is best suited to experienced adventure travellers as poor infrastructure goes hand in hand with many inconveniences and discomforts. There is hardly any accommodation to be found except for the capital and the city of Bobo-Dioulasso.
 
When to visit? December-February
 
Top tourist attractions:
 
Gorom-Gorom market, Bobo-Dioulasso, the ruins of Loropéni

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Geography

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Burkina Faso - mound-building termites

Burkina Faso - age-old baobab tree

Burkina Faso - south west of the country - The Sindou Peaks - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - south-west of the country, near Banfora - Karfiguela Waterfall - k.a. photo

History

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Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - the oldest house - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - statue of a former military, kind of Marxist President, Thomas Sankara, "Africa's Che Guevara", killed in 1987

Nowadays

1. Society is very hierarchical, and women have very different roles than men. Men and women are, therefore, not considered equal. The role of women is linked to family tasks, such as caring for children and the house. The man is the head of the family and is the one with the decision-making power. The woman owes him respect and obedience. Women are less educated than men. This trend is even stronger in rural areas than in urban areas.

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou, the captal city

Burkina Faso - city life

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - women in the backyard - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - village life

Burkina Faso - village life - c.c. photo

Burkina Faso - village woman

People

1. Whether it is between a married man and a woman or lovers, public displays of affection are not appropriate. In big cities, occasionally we can see young teenage couples holding hands, but that's all.

2. Different ethnic groups like to make fun of each other, making it possible to deride sensitive subjects. You may witness scenes where Burkinabés insult each other by referring to their ethnic origins. We must not panic. It’s a game, and sometimes you’ll be pressured to vote for one side.

3. Regardless of which religion (Muslims, Christians, or animists), the Burkinabés are very religious and practicing for the most part. Religion is an essential part of their lives. They often turn to God when the time comes to complete a plan, take action, or face a problem.
Several times a day, they say Inshallah (God willing).  
People consult God, marabouts, or witch doctors for answers or solutions related to all kinds of private concerns. That can result in fatalism, which sometimes justifies that specific actions, after all, do not happen.

4. Burkinabés are not punctual and are - mostly - disorganized in their work.






West Africa - Burkina Faso - locals

Burkina Faso - kids

Burkina Faso - girl

Burkina Faso - guys

Burkina Faso - village couple

Burkina Faso - lunch

Tourist etiquette

1. It is essential to avoid body contact until a certain familiarity has set in, especially in male-female relationships. Proximity, on the other hand, is a sign of trust.  You don't have to stare at people when talking to them. That can create a situation of unease and may could be interpreted as a kind of challenge.

2. Don't make too many gestures while talking to locals as they would consider it a lack of calm and control over your emotions. Facial expressions are not welcome; use a calm tone of voice.



Gastronomy

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Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - home cooking - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - pouring tea - k.a. photo

Attractions

Bani

Burkina Faso - Bani

Ouagadougou

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Kwame Nkrumah Avenue - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Central market - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Freedom Avenue - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Grand Mosque - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Ouagadougou - Cathedral - of Immaculate Conception - Roman Catholic - k.a. photo

Bobo-Dioulasso

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - The Grand Mosque - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - The Grand Mosque - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - The Grand Mosque - inside - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - the railway station - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - k.a. photo

Burkina Faso - Bobo-Dioulasso - Old Town - k.a. photo

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