Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) is a landlocked country in West Africa, a former French colony. The name of this not very popular country means “land of honest people”. Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries and its economy relies heavily on international aid and the large number of expatriates. The diseases, mainly AIDS and the lack of free health care results in low life expectancy and high infant mortality. The education is actually not free and the meager income of the average population does not allow basic education in just 30% of children. No remarkable river crosses the country and drought weakens the poor agricultural production which employs the 80% of the population.


People

The Burkinabe are friendly people, although the country’s name is not borne by the residents of the capital. But the difference was large in Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city. Because of its commercially important position in the south of the country, enjoys a little better standard of living and a touch of colonial atmosphere. Burkina Faso was until recently one of the safest countries in Africa, but the terrorism hit here too, imported from the troubled Mali, with a deadly attack occurred having Westerner victims, abductions and attacks.


Places

Apart from the unique name of the country, vocabulary is enriched by original city names. The capital Ouagadougou, the second largest city Bobo Dioulasso, Banfora and the town of Ouahigouia that I never pronounced correctly…



Burkina Faso…

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With an old, unbelievable wrecked bus full of people, goods and goats peeing over our heads, we spent New Year’s Eve passing the border from central Mali, in the dangerous “red” rebel area. A buffer zone without human presence spans the two countries’ border. Nobody welcomed us on the Malian border post which was … sewn by bullets and abandoned after a deadly attacked. Nobody was there anymore to put an exit stamp in the passport. Contrary to that, the Burkina army was everywhere, as every dictatorship that respects itself needs. The bus stopped for id checking at least every 10km, and when again approached the southern border of the country it was happening every 500m. But most memorable was the incident in Ouahigouia, the first city after the border, where we stopped for the night of New Year. A fully armed army platoon arrived at the hotel to guard us. Half of the men occupied the adjoining rooms and the rest of them the entrance. Their presence was not so valuable, since we decided to go for a night walk and entertainment in a local African disco.

to be continued…

 



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