Published: February 3rd 2012February 3rd 2012
The moment you enter the French-speaking country, Burkina Faso, you will notice that the country is dominated by peasant farmers who basically use donkeys as their key means of transport. While taking a drive from Ouagadougou Airport which takes 10 minutes to the city centre, there were a number of children and women begging on the streets while both women and men are busy engaged in the boda boda business.
The country is agricultural with livestock farmers’ raring white cattle, sheep and goats and in the south and southwest part of the country, others grow sorghum, pearl millet, ground nuts, rice and cotton which is the major cash crop. Farmers are already growing genetically modified cotton that is exported to China. This has elevated many farmers from peasantry farming to commercial farmers. A good number of them own more than 10 acres of land only for cotton growing. Just like the culture in all West African countries, the dress code is kitenge and almost all the boutique shops trade in these types of clothes. However, what is astounding is that women are aggressively involved in boda boda business which is the commercial trend in the city centre. While using the donkeys as means of transport is unheard of here, this is the major transport means for the rural Burkinabe. This is seen on the outskirts of the city where all categories of people including men, women and children are seen ferrying their agricultural products and firewood to nearby trading centres using donkeys.A popular sight in the villages is people grazing a number of donkeys, as almost every homestead owns at least a set of donkeys. Burkinabe’s, since fuel vending is done on streets and homes. Burkinabe meals are simple but tasty and nutritious. A typical dish consists of rice, millet, yams, sorghum, or maize (referred to as to) served with a sauce made from okra, various greens like spinach, tomatoes, or peanuts. The sauces may contain fish or meat and French bread is available in larger towns and villages. One of the nomadic tribes, the Fulani have a very impressive life with families making temporary houses out of grass mat during dry season, but in rainy season, they change the mode by constructing houses using plastic straw mats. The Fulani call this kind of house “suudu cekke” which literally means house of grass mat. The house is constructed from six grass mats that are held together and tied against wood poles. When it is time to move, the house is easily disassembled and loaded onto donkeys or camels for transport. This type of grass mat and house is specific to the Jelgooji Fulani, whose roots trace back to the Jelgooji region of eastern Burkina Faso. For the ordinary Burkinabe, enclosing their homestead using unburnt bricks is a fashion, as this is seen with all homesteads constructed along the highway. Ouagadougou is a relatively small city that comprises only one main street but it is famously known for hosting film festivals. The CountryBurkina Faso has one of the lowest GDP per capita figures in the world amounting $1,200 with agriculture representing 32 per cent of its gross domestic product and occupies 80 per cent of the working population