Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West-Africa. With an area of 274,200 km, the country is slightly larger than US city of Colorado. It borders Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, and Ghana. It was a French colony until August 5, 1960 when it gained independence from France. It was formerly known as Upper Volta but the name was later changed to “Burkina Faso” meaning The Land of honest people.
Let’s pay a visit to Burkina Faso and find out some facts about this country.
1. THE LAND OF HONEST MEN
Burkina Faso’s name literally translates to ‘The land of honest (incoruptible) men ‘. The country’s name was changed on August 2,1984 by a presidential decree made by the then President Sankara. It’s capital Ouagadougou, written as ‘Wogodo’ in the local Moore language means ‘where people get honor and respect ‘.
True to their name, Burkinabes are honest folks. Local commercially dealings are carried out honestly.
2. BURKINA FASO HAS 66 ETHNIC GROUPS
Burkina Faso has 66 ethnic groups. The Mossi are the largest ethnic group and they account for 50.2% of Burkina Faso’s 20.9 million population. Other major ethnic groups are the ; Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobo, Bobo and Fulani. French is the official language but Moore, the official language of the Mossi people is widely spoken. English is rarely spoken.
3. BURKINA FASO IS A LEADER IN AFRICAN ART AND CULTURE.
Burkina Faso is a leading producer of African arts. Masks, leather bags and shoes, dyed clothing, wooden sculptures and many more abound in Burkina Faso. The country also boasts of having one of the biggest art market in Africa. The mask men of Burkina Faso are very popular.
4. THE COWBOYS OF WEST AFRICA
The Mossi people of Burkina Faso are strong horse lovers. Horses are part of everyday life for Burkinabes, to some, it’s their source of living. The national symbol of the country is the Stallion and their national football team is called ‘The Stallion’. Also, the most common surname is Ouedrago which means ‘Stallion’. They sure do love their horses.
6. BURKINA FASO HAS THE 10th HIGHEST FERTILITY RATE IN THE WORLD.
With an average of 5.03 births per woman, Burkina Faso ranks 10th in countries with the highest fertility rates. There’s been a gradual decline in birth rates recently.
7. IT IS ONE OF THE COUNTRIES WITH THE MOST YOUNG PEOPLE
With a median age of 17.6, Burkina Faso has a lot of young people compared to the older ones.
8. THE AFRICAN CHE GUEVARA
Thomas Sankara was the first President of Burkina Faso. He was born on the 21st of December, 1949 and he came into power on the 4th of August 1983. His government focused on building schools, health centres, water reservoirs, and nearly 100 km of rail, with little or no external assistance. Total cereal production rose by 75% between 1983 and 1986. He also reduced infant mortality, school attendance increased greatly and he outlawed genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. He changed the country’s name in 1984 and composed a new anthem for the country himself. He was a great and charismatic leader. Sadly, he was assassiated in a coup in 1987 after just four years in power. Because of his great deeds, he’s fondly called ‘The African Che Guevara”.
9. ONE OF AFRICA’S LONGEST RULERS
After Sankara’s mysterious murder in 1987, He’s best friend and deputy Blaise Compaore took over power. This new ruler was nothing near Sankara and one by one he removed all blocking his way. He bent and changed the constitution so it could allow him rule for ever. However, he was forced to resign in 2014 after mass national violent protest. He fled to neighboring Côte d’ivoire to seek refuge. In April 2021 he and 14 others were charged with the murder of former president Sankara and in April 2022 he was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
10. COUPS, DROUGHTS AND FAMINE
Burkina Faso has had 7 successful coups which is the highest in the African continent. In January this year, there was a failed coup attempt by the country’s military. In just 27 years of independence, the military staged 5 coups. The loyalty of the military to civilian rule remains a big question
Because of the country’s position in the sahel region, it has had some series of droughts, of which the most prominent ones occurred in the 1970s. These droughts resulted in national famine and the death of many. In recent years, efforts are being made to pacify the problem. Trees are being planted across the country to slow down desertification. Desertification is a huge problem for Burkina Faso since 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for survival.
11. ITS MAIN EXPORT IS GOLD
Gold accounts for 70% of the country’s total export. Cotton, Zinc and phosphate are also some of the country’s main exports. The country’s miming have been expanding in recent years.
12. BURKINA FASO HAS HIGH RATES OF POVERTY AND ILLITERACY.
Despite being Africa’s fourth largest producer of Gold, Burkina Faso is a very poor country. The country also have limited natural resources. Though some progress have been made in recent years, poverty still remains high, two in five individuals live below the poverty line. 41.4% of the citizens are very poor. There’s also a wide gap between the rich and the poor as 90% of the poor citizens live in the rural areas. At the moment, 8.145 million are living on less than $1.25 a day. This unequal distribution of resources between rural and urban areas could cause tensions which the country already has.
Also, with an adult literacy rate of just 41.2%, Burkina Faso is one of the least literate countries in the world. 70% of the population are illiterates. There are few schools, especially in the rural areas. School attendance is very low too in the rural areas. 15 in 100 children have no access to formal education. There’s also gender inequality in terms of education as a higher percent (close to 80%) of Burkinabe women are illiterates. Much efforts are being by the country to ameliorate the situation. We can only hope that this efforts have remarkable effects.
12. BURKINA HAS GOT ITS OWN SHARE OF BEAUTY
From highlands to the low lands, there’s beauty in Burkina Faso. Though they may not be rich, they’ve got a rich art and cultural heritage. It is interesting to know that the country has 3 UNESCO heritage sites.
13. BURKINA IS NOT SAFE FOR TRAVELING
Because of ever present terrorist attacks, civil unrests and protests, you are struggling warned against visiting Burkina Faso for now. The country is no way safe.
We can only hope that things get better for the honest people of Burkina Faso.