Burkina Faso was originally inhabited by the Bobo, Lobi and Gurunsi with the Mossi and Gurma migrating into the region later on. The land of the Mossi became a French protectorate in 1879 and became a separate colony in 1919 called the Upper Volta that was later partitioned among Niger, the Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire. Upper Volta later became independent on August 4th 1984 where they later changed the name to Burkina Faso meaning "the country of honorable people".
Back in 1984, Marxist and Burkinabe Military Captain Thomas Sankara assumed power. He was a charismatic leader who mobilized the masses to launch a massive development movement.
Thomas Sankara believed in equality among all people and therefore ensured the equitable distribution of natural as well as man made resources. He believed in the policy of earning what you worked for which was seen as he still earned the salary of a Captain while he was the President of Burkina Faso.
His children were also treated the same way as any other ordinary Burkinabe children attending public schools with their father, the President, taking them to school on a bicycle!
The measures taken by Thomas Sankara were met with growing resistance and resistance despite his initial popularity. Tension began to surface in the implementation of the revolutionary movement that eventually led to the assassination of Sankara in a coup which brought Blaise Compaore into power.
On Christmas day of 1985, Burkina Faso fought in a five-day war with Mali that saw the death of over 100 people in dispute over the mineral rich Agacher strip. The conflict ended after meditation by the then president of Cote d'Ivoire but the Christmas war is largely remembered in Burkina Faso today.
Burkina Faso is a multilingual country with an estimated 69 languages spoken all over the country. The official language is French which was introduced in the country during the colonial period. French is the principle language of administrative, political and judicial institutions, public service and the press.
Education for the deaf in Burkina Faso uses American Sign Language though there is also an indigenous urban sign language in Ougadougou.
The music of Burkina Faso includes folklore music of the over 60 different ethnic groups. Burkinabe traditional music has continued to thrive and musical output remains quite diverse. Popular music is mostly in French: Burkina Faso is yet to produce Pan-African success in terms of music.
The national anthem of Burkina Faso "Une Seule Nuit" was written by Thomas Sankara .
The national Museum of Music in Ougadougou began collecting musical instruments like the balafon drums seen above in 1998 to preserve the rich history of Burkinabe music.
The Semaine Nationale de la Culture, held every two years from 1983 is a musical festival that has helped produce popular music stars like Koudbi Koala.
Popular traditional groups in Burkina Faso balafon bands,kora, percussion ensembles and others who use use elements relevant to Burkinabe music.
Masks occupy an important position in the religious life of Burkina Faso. The use of masks in initiation ceremonies and funerals is quite typical in Burkina Faso. Masks appear at burials to observe on behalf of the ancestors that proper burial procedures are carried out.
Masks attend to honor the deceased and to verify that the spirit of the deceased has been received well into the spirit world. Without a proper funeral the spirit remains near the home haunting its descendants.
Bwaba dancing masks
The Bwa wooden masks represent different characters related to the myths of their families and clans.
The Bwa masks are chromatic white, red and black as predominant colors.
The days of the dance, everybody sweeps their compounds then put on their best outfits awaiting the ceremony.
Great mask festival attended by around 40 villages each of them represented by their own chosen group of masks.
This festival attracts tourists from as far as the capital Ougadougou. At that point the festival turns into a collective moment of socialization. This event also features story-tellers that are in competition to reveal their own talent.
Dancing masks in March and April where masks invoke the rain
Every year when it comes to the rainy season, villagers in Burkina Faso rely on the masks to get good rains. The masks are entrusted to act as intermediaries able to communicate directly with the gods.
FESPACO (Festival of the African Cinema)
One of the most important festivities revealing the African cinema. It happens every two years in Ougadougou. This is a good time to travel to Burkina Faso if you are interested in cinematography as you will get the chance to meet other African as well as international movie enthusiasts.
The festival was created in 1969 and it is celebrated every two years with the 24th edition being in 2015.