I thought it might be a good idea to give you an introduction to the place where I will be living for the next 9 months, as I realised that many people aren’t very familiar with the geography of Burkina Faso.
First of all, Burkina is a landlocked country located in West Africa. Its neighbouring countries are clockwise from north – Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The capital city of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou (or simply Ouaga) and it’s located right in the middle of the country. Its dust-chocked streets and endless selection of gardens and outdoor bars offer a brilliant bazaar of modern West African life. Ouaga is a very interesting city and it is considered the arts capital of Burkina. There are plenty of festivals that take place in the city throughout the year– traditional dance, music, film, masks and much more. Many of these festivals are facilitated by the French Institute, a French cultural centre dedicated to the promotion of cultural and creative industries in Burkina. This week I was lucky enough to attend the 9th edition of the Festival Ciné Droit Libre, which presented a selection of Burkinabé documantaries on various human rights issues, such as workers’ rights and gender disparities in Burkinabé society.
Well, in short, it’s hard to get bored here, as every week there is something new on in the city, which is absolutely brilliant!
Things are a bit different in the area where I will be working during the week. The name of the town where I’ll be living is Ziniaré. This is a very special place for many Burkinabé citizens, as their current President, Blaise Compaoré (who has been in power for almost 20 years) was born there. Ziniaré is located north from Ouaga, in the Oubritenga District. It’s only 45 minutes drive from the capital, but it is a complately different place. Despite a number of urban developments seem to have found their way here, Ziniaré remains essentially a rural place. The town consists of mainly one long road with small boutiques and maquis (local bars) on the side. Further away from this road, the landscape merges into the fields. Everywhere in Ziniaré you can find people sitting around selling all sorts of street food: mangos, peanut sauce, pastries, brochettes (small chunks of beef meat, skewered and grilled), riz sauce (plain white rice with vegetable sauce), to (a mixture of millet and water served with spinach sauce) and benga (beans with tomato sauce). The big market takes place 3 days per week and it is the chance to go and look for products coming from the capital, especially the so much needed vegetables! As described above, the diet is pretty much carbs-only, so finding things like tomatoes or salad is a weekly challenge!
Ziniaré is a very small community, so it’s been very easy to get to know people around the house. People are very friendly here and it’s not uncommon for strangers to greet you or stop you in the street for a small chat. Furthermore, in Ziniaré it’s very hard as a white person not to stand out from the crowd. Especially children are obsessed with Nasaras (More word for white person – apparently in reference to Jesus from Nazareth). They’d run to you from miles away crying out loud Nasssssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaara!!! They seem to be having so much fun that is impossibile to get offended!
So, yes, that’s my life at the moment. I am the talk of the town and despite all my efforts to memorise people’s names, everybody seem to know mine already…so unfair…