Art and Music in Burkina Faso

What a rich culture. The music wafts through the car windows. The crafts range from simple carving to works of art. We want to sample it all.

Our time in  Ougadougou was mostly spent looking for crafts and music.  Burkina is a very poor country, but has a very rich culture and Burkanibes are very creative.    Burkina is the site of a bi-annual African film festival called FESPACO Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou, held in October that attracts films from all over Africa.  On the off-years there is another bi-annual ffestival:  Le Salon International de L Artisanat de Ouagadougou (International Art and Craft Fair).  We are not here for that but there is no shortage of galleries in which to view the creative work.

Burkina and neighbouring Mali are the West African wood carving masters. Pieces we have seen elsewhere we now learn are from here. Statues that might have had origins in traditional religion that is still so much a part of local life. Carvings that invoke plentiful rains or a healthy child. We opted for a sun that tradition says encourages a good harvest. (Who knows what we might decide to plant in our Ottawa garden.)








Bronze is another speciality of Burkina using the so-called “lost-wax method”.   Ghana has a few artists that use this same method but here it is used in large pieces of art. The design is first built in wax – for example a woman dancing. Then the wax is coated in clay and the wax is melted out leaving a clay mold. Into this mold the artist pours molten bronze which takes the shape of the wax. The clay is then cracked open and voila a one-of-a-kind work of art.

Then there is fabric. Wax print is ever popular but Burkina adds a bright batik style and indigo printing. The indigo printing that was in the market was a strange overprint on other fabric. More interesting than useful. So instead we now have quite a stock of the batik and coordinating colours. Make the best of what is available! And start to dream of new quilts to come.

Contemporary Burkina music is called Coupé Decalé – unhinged steps. We went out both our nights in Ouagadougou (a miracle in and of itself) to listen to music. One night was a dj with a busy dance floor. We sat outside among the many tables on the sidewalk and bought barbequed chicken from a freelance guy set up right there and cold Brakina beer from the club.   We even danced.  The second night was live music alternating between traditional djembe, drums and flute, on one stage and a 5-piece band with female lead singer on the other.  As the evening wore on the band moved into earlier Coupe Decale, with the woman replaced by an older throaty singer who also played guitar.  There seems to be live music all over the country.  We bought 4 CDs that have quickly become part of our driving repertoire.