City Guide, Ouagadougou
Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso in West Africa. Almost 1.5 million
people live in Ouagadougou, making it Burkina Faso's largest city and its commercial
capital. Ouagadougou was founded in the mid 15th century by the Yonyonse tribe who
named the area “Wogodogo,” meaning "where people get honor and
respect". It soon became the capital of the Mossi Empire.
All the sights can easily be reached by foot. While they are not outstanding,
the atmosphere is relaxed and the Burkinabes are known to be very hospitable and
friendly. One of the best known events in Ouagadougou is the bi-annual African film
festival known as FESPACO. In alternating years, there is an arts festival called
SIAO. Ouagadougou is a clean, ordered, polite and downright civilised city. It seems
quite easy to enjoy killing time in a city full of nothing to do.
The Ethnography Museum houses an interesting and substantial collection of Mossi
artifacts as the town is the center of many ancient Mossi kingdoms, while the National
Museum (Musée National) in the Lycée Bogodogo has a large collection of masks. The
National Museum, created in 1962, offers visitors a look at the different cultures
and tribes of Burkina Faso. A library inside the museum assists tourists in exploring
the culture of the people further by explaining the meaning of items sacred to the
Other museums worth visiting are the Snake Museum in the Collége de la Salle
and the Music Museum (Musée De La Musique) with a display of traditional musical
instruments. The guide only speaks French and is only worthwhile using if the visitor
is fluent in French.
Culture and entertainment
The Moro-Naba ceremony (la cérémonie du Nabayius Gou), takes place every Friday
at the Moro-Naba Palace. It is a very formal ritual that lasts only about 15 minutes
where several dignitaries visit the palace of the emperor of the Mossi and makes
a show of consulting the powerful traditional leader, the Moro-Naba (the 37th).
Visitors should approach the compound from the east and refrain from taking pictures
during the ceremony. This is an excellent opportunity to view traditional costumes
and experience the playing of the traditional drums.
Nightlife is particularly good in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso. There are several
nightclubs in Ouagadougou, some with live music, and several cinemas, both open-air
and air conditioned. Bobo Dioulasso has a lively street-cafe scene, good open-air
bars and restaurants and a number of open-air and air-conditioned discos. The Wassa
Club and Les Bambous are popular venues.
Food and drink
Though there are some staple foods in the country, which include maize, beans,
rice, potatoes, okra, millet, yams and peanuts, there are some other foods in Burkina
Faso too that are extremely popular in the country. With abundant livestock in most
of the villages, eggs are available in plenty. The rivers act as storehouse to several
varieties of fish, which are also consumed by the local people of the area. Meat
is not eaten quite often as it is pretty expensive. Apart from these sources of
protein, fresh green vegetables are available in plenty in the country.
Beer is the most common form of drink that is consumed by maximum number of people
apart from water. Dolo and Bissap are the two most popular forms of beer that are
available in the country. Another soft drink that is popular in the country is called
Zoomkoom, made with millet flour and water and flavored with ginger and lemon.
There are many advanced markets in various places of Burkina Faso that have store
of several beautiful artifacts and articles, typical of the West African country.
The various marketing destinations in Burkina Faso include Ouahigouya, Dori, Bobo
Dioulasso, Ouagadougou and Gorom-Gorom. Traditional articles including handicrafts
and metallic statues and sculptures are the most fascinating pieces that can be
picked up from these markets.
Most of the shops in the markets demand high prices for the articles, but heavy
bargaining can bring down the prices considerably. The most attractive articles
in the market include bronze statues and models, wooden decorative pieces, various
types of masks, beautiful products manufactured from animal skin, jewelry, clothes,
blankets that are hand-woven, chess sets and ashtrays. All these things can be bought
as memoirs and can also act as good pieces of souvenirs.