Burkina Faso…

Dear Diary,

I have been reliably lazy lately to even entertain the thought of posting a new entry on my blog. Not that I didn’t write bits and pieces on my diary (in fact, I started writing daily on my appointment diary, and it being a bit too small in size to be a proper journal, I had to resort to using blank pages from the days gone by!) – its just that those bits and pieces don’t always make suitable content for this supposedly formal and polite blog. So, I just have to let my diary entries about my flirtation with voluptuous Burkina lady or of getting drunk on my third day in Burkina stay as handwritten pieces on my appointment diary. Oops, I just mentioned what I didn’t mean to! Strictly no details here though!

long straight road to Burkina
Long straight section of the road on the way to Burkina

Burkina Faso is undoubtedly a fascinating country. I had the good fortune of arriving in this country overland, passing through some beautiful parklands and of witnessing the change in landscape from Northern Ghana over a distance of 360 KMs or so. The only difficulty has been the language – Burkina being a Francophone country and my French almost non existent (its a bit embarrassing to mention here but I just received an email from the language teaching centre at my university informing me that I passed the level 1 French with “merit” – so I better start showing off my “merit” in French level 1!!). Good thing is that I have been trying to communicate in French as much as I can manage – asking for food, key to my room at the hotel etc. – and TV5 has certainly helped me get used to listening French as it seems to be the only reliable 24hr TV channel here (at my hotel). I have particularly started to enjoy children’s programmes and cartoons in French, as they are the easiest to comprehend. I have promised myself and to the colleagues in Burkina that the next time I come back, I’ll speak to them in French! And now having been able to acquire a multiple entry permit for a year, I certainly plan to come back here when I can.

A friend’s brother has been of immense assistance here ever since my arrival. He arrives at my hotel whenever I want him to with his “moto” ((small motorbike which needs pedalling to start – I think it can be ridden like a bicycle if the rider runs out of fuel at the middle of the ride!)) and he has taken me to just about every corner of Ouagadougou in his moto. It’s actually a great means to travel for me as it’s not very fast and I can see where I am going and the general sights and sounds of the streets of Ouagadougou.

view on the way to Burkina
Changing landscape on the way to Burkina

I should also mention that I went along with my friend to his hometown of Koudougou, some 97 KMs west of Ouagadougou as he wanted to get some of his stuffs from his home (he now works in Ghana). It was another experience travelling to a small town in Burkina on a local bus and witnessing the daily life of Burkinabes along the way.

view on the way to Burkina
Passing the parklands with Shea trees and field of maize

The thing that surprised me most as I arrived in Burkina is that how active and at the forefront women here are. Out in the streets there are women on bicycles, motorcycles, and even behind the wheels of cars. During one of my counts on one of the busiest streets (Kwame N’Krumah Avenue), I counted 3 out of 4 small private vehicles (cars/jeeps) with women behind the wheels! However, the most impressive sight has to be seeing women carrying their baby at the back (tied with a cloth) and then riding on bicycle or motorcycle. Talk about multitasking – this has to be one of the best examples – parenting and getting on with other work!

As always, I have been very cautious about going around town alone, especially at night. I basically don’t go out alone at night. During daytime, I started walking a short distance to the internet cafe (10 minutes or so from my previous hotel). Now for my last night in Ouagadougou, I have moved to a hotel next to the internet cafe – a bit pricey but I thought I should treat myself to some luxury on my last night here on my inaugural trip to this city! The reason I’m still here tonight (29 June 2007) is that we travelled to a research site outside town early this morning and by the time we got back into the town it was a bit late to catch a taxi to Ghana – and with border closing at 6pm, I didn’t want to take any risks! And I am impressed with the internet connection here. It is as fast as in Europe! Unfortunately the hotels here seem to be a bit behind in adopting technologies – as even at this pricey hotel they don’t have the internet connection. When I asked the receptionist, he pointed me to the cafe I have been using for the last 4-5 days. I couldn’t help but wonder if they (internet cafe) have some sort of deal going on with the hotel! Hopefully next time when I come here even the affordable hotel will have the internet facility.

The day before, I decided to walk a bit in Ouagadougou rather than go around pillion riding on the moto. So, when my friend’s brother came around, I suggested that we go for a walk instead. He was certainly surprised at my suggestion. We walked for nearly an hour around town before settling down for a drink. I then let him go back and decided to stay at the hotel for the rest of the evening. I was obviously quite tired from the walk in the heat, so decided not to go out for drink later at night. Instead I watched “Flag of our Fathers” that I had on my external disk. A typical Clint Eastwood-directed movie of late – in between a documentary and a feature film.

Blogger Deepak suggests I should write a travelogue for his Nepal magazine based on my experience in Ghana and here in Burkina – in Nepali of course. I have promised to try but it certainly will take a lot more effort than I thought it would. Whenever I start to write in Nepali these days, I have trouble finding the right words to express myself. I know the words in English but finding the right word in Nepali just seems so much harder. It’s probably not surprising for I have not written seriously in Nepali for many years now, and my vocabulary of the language seems to be locked somewhere deep in my memory – with a very difficult access code! I will be trying nevertheless. After all I am talking about the language here that I was using for my day-to-day life for the first 19 years of my existence!

Okay I think that is all I would like to mention on this entry. I wanted to post something before I left Burkina Faso and I am about to do just that. Sorry, the entries these days are becoming more and more personal and may be a bit boring read. I think I’m still adjusting to my new life here in Africa and trying to settle into the system better before I could begin to analyse things more objectively. Most of these entries are just copy-typed from my handwritten journal (which I really can’t call a proper diary – or dainiki in Nepali – as I don’t really write on it daily!). Anyway, I hope to post more thought-through and hopefully more objective (and analytical) entries in future. Till then enjoy my diary entries of sorts!!

Oh, before I hit post, I’d like to mention that I am going back to Ghana tomorrow (30 June) and then have plans for field visits in Ghana itself – so may be the next entry (or the one after next) will probably take a while! Advance warning….and Blogger Deepak, I’ll try my best to write something (yatra sansmaran of sorts!) for your Nepal magazine – but strictly no promises šŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “Burkina Faso…

  1. I dont understand, why Burkina Faso is the name of the Country, i get most of the SCAM mails from.

    Just a weird question and doesnt necessarily need an answer?

    Do you think, it has anything to do with any business over there! : )

  2. Thanks for mentioning about our chat. Well, there seems to be a little misunderstanding. I said an analogy between Nepal and Burkina Faso (also between Thamel and Tamale, if there can be). The idea came to my mind from a memory buried (like ur Nepali) in my mind. Long time ago, probably three years, I heard the name of this African country for the first time and was immediately fascinated by it. There was a small graph or something which compared Burkina Faso with Nepal, possibly based on both of these countries’ reliance on agriculture. I reproduced the piece for Nepal magazine. Now, after knowing a Nepali, that too with a solid academic background, is in Burkina Faso, I hastened to request you for the article.

    Sometimes, the pieces about faraway lands are a good read (eg ur this post which i enjoyed along with it’s superb pics). In our magazine, there are few US-based contributors(Anga Raj, Snjay, to name a few) who write in both languages with equal aplomb. I re-suggest, you write this piece, for I am sure you’ll be able to rediscover urself and connect to ur root once u finish ur piece.

    Hope to read ur sansmaran very soo.

    With best wishes,

    Deepak

  3. ELF, it used to be Nigeria before, no? May be the Nigerian disease has spread up north!

    Deepakji, now I am a bit clearer on what you wanted me to write exactly. But to be honest being clearer doesn’t really help with the writing itself. I’ll need to do a bit more research on Burkina than met my eyes when I was there, in order to be able to write a comparative piece that you talk of. Agriculture is certainly the main occupation in Burkina and it is also a landlocked country – so two similarities there with Nepal already!

    Cheers for now, m.

  4. Well, nice diary I’d say. but again suffered typically surfacial POV of a typical budget tourist rather that a real impression about Burkina-Faso and Ougadougou. I find nothing fancying about memoir either in nepali or english unless it bring something good for questing minds.

    Do something utterly beautiful, if you are doing it; so that it could make you proud later, otherwise its just sample snaps of your journey.

  5. Nice diary! I would love to visit that places someday. It seems like there is loads of similarities between that country and Nepal. The pics speak so!! šŸ™‚
    Best of luck with ur research!! šŸ™‚

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