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Burkina Faso is one of those countries you don’t hear much in the media, even though there are reasons why it should be.

Once the home of a lot of Mossi kingdoms, it came to be a French colony during the Scramble for Africa. For a while before and during World War II, it was divided between its French colonial neighbors, but was reconstituted after the war. It achieved independence in 1960, as Upper Volta (Haute-Volta in French), as a reference to the Volta River. It was renamed as Burkina Faso in 1984, which means “land of the honest people”.

Like most of the near countries, Burkina Faso’s history was dominated by autoritarian governments and coups - there had been a number of military governments until 1983, when Thomas Sankara, a Communist revolutionary, performed a coup and assumed power. However, perhaps to the surprise of a Western reader, Sankara's government was actually incredibly popular in Burkina Faso and much of Africa, something owed to his socioeconomic programs, which included immense literacy campaigns, land redistribution, reforestation of ecologically damaged areas, and fighting against sexism and gender inequality with the outlawing of female genital mutilation and forced marriages. Of course, good things never last very long, and in 1987, Sankara's government was toppled and counter-couped by his once-friend Blaise Compaoré; (the reason given was "deteriorating relations with neighbours", and most Burkinabes hold that France instigated the coup), who rolled back nearly all of the policies from his predecessor. He stood as President until 2014 in a country filled with poverty and other problems (the country is considered the third least developed in the world). Sadly, it is apparent that the leaders never understood completely the meaning behind their country’s name, with the only exception of Sankara.

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In 2011, the death of a student triggered massive protests in the country and the mutiny of parts of the army and the National Guard. The protests are still ongoing, so it’s still too soon to make an educated guess about what’s going to happen. However, things seem to have changed in late 2015, after (what appears to be) the last military coup d'état (this time against President Michel Kafando), and pressure from the African Union, ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States), and the armed forces, the military junta stepped down and Kafando was temporarily re-instated as President. The 2015 general election was then held on the 29th of November (with former president Blaise Compaore's party being banned from the election), and the new president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of the People's Movement for Progress, has been in power ever since, becoming the first president in the country's recent history to have never had ties with the military.

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Religiously, there seems to be an equilibrium between Christianity and Islam, although Islam seems to be midly more popular. However, the animistic religions are way more popular than both of them together, especially since they tend to blend their religion of choice with the local religions. In fact, a popular motto in the country seems to be “50% are Muslim, 50% are Christian and 100% are animist”.

Even though the country is not widely known outside Africa, in the continent is well known because of its film industry, producing lots of well-known pictures in the continent, like Yaaba and Tilaï, of the director Idrissa Ouedraogo, or Buud Yam, one of the most famous pictures of Africa. It’s also home of the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the largest African film festival, held in the capital of the country.


Burkina Faso in fiction:

  • International co-production Moolaade, about the practice of female genital mutilation, is set and was shot in a village in Burkina Faso.
  • SEAL Team's fifth season sends Bravo Team to Burkina Faso to combat the Sahaba of Greater Sahel, a West African ISIS-inspired terrorist group that has bombed multiple countries in the region.
  • In Black Lagoon, the "L'homme sombre" story arc strongly hints that Dutch was a personal friend of former president Thomas Sankara and that he was involved in the later 1989 coup d'etat.

Burkinabé Culture


The Burkinabé flag https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/burkina_faso_flag_9535.png
Like most other African countries, the Burkinabe flag uses the Pan-African colors, but with its own interpretation. The red upper half symbolizes the 1983 revolution that brought Sankara to power; the green lower half symbolizes the country's agricultural and natural wealth; and the golden star in the middle symbolizes the guiding light of the revolution.

The Burkinabé national anthem

Contre la férule humiliante il y a déjà mille ans,
La rapacité venue de loin les asservir il y a cent ans.
Contre la cynique malice métamorphosée
En néocolonialisme et ses petits servants locaux
Beaucoup flanchèrent et certains résistèrent.
Mais les échecs, les succès, la sueur, le sang
Ont fortifié notre peuple courageux et fertilisé sa lutte héroïque.

Et une seule nuit a rassemblée en elle
L'histoire de tout un peuple.
Et une seule nuit a déclenché sa marche triomphale
Vers l'horizon du bonheur.
Une seule nuit a réconcilié notre peuple
Avec tous les peuples du monde,
A la conquête de la liberté et du progrès
La Patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons!

Nourris à la source vive de la Révolution.
Les engagés volontaires de la liberté et de la paix
Dans l'énergie nocturne et salutaire du 4 août
N'avaient pas que les armes à la main, mais aussi et surtout
La flamme au coeur pour légitimement libérer
Le Faso à jamais des fers de tous ceux qui
Çà et, là en poluaient l'âme sacrée de l'indépendance, de la souveraineté.

Et séant désormais en sa dignité recouvrée
L'amour et l'honneur en partage avec l'humanité,
Le peuple du Burkina chante un hymne à la victoire,
A la gloire du travail libérateur, émancipateur.
A bas l'exploitation de l'homme par l'homme!
Hé en avant pour le bonheur de tout homme,
Par tous les hommes aujourd'hui et demain,
Par tous les hommes ici et pour toujours!

Révolution populaire notre sève nourricière.
Maternité immortelle du progrès à visage d'homme.
Foyer éternel de démocratie consensuelle,
Où enfin l'identité nationale a droit de cité,
Où pour toujours l'injustice perd ses quartiers,
Et où, des mains des bâtisseurs d'un monde radieux
Mûrissent partout les moissons de vœux patriotiques, brillent les soleils infinis de joie.

Et une seule nuit a rassemblée en elle
L'histoire de tout un peuple.
Et une seule nuit a déclenché sa marche triomphale
Vers l'horizon du bonheur.
Une seule nuit a réconcilié notre peuple
Avec tous les peuples du monde,
A la conquête de la liberté et du progrès
La Patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons!

Against the humiliating bondage of a thousand years
Rapacity came from afar to subjugate them for a hundred years.
Against the cynical malice in the shape
Of neo-colonialism and its petty local servants.
Many gave in and certain others resisted.
But the frustrations, the successes, the sweat, the blood
Have fortified our courageous people and fertilized its heroic struggle.

And one single night has drawn together
The history of an entire people,
And one single night has launched its triumphal march.
Towards the horizon of good fortune.
One single night has brought together our people
With all the peoples of the World,
In the acquisition of liberty and progress.
Motherland or death, we shall conquer.

Nourished in the lively source of the Revolution,
The volunteers for liberty and peace
With their nocturnal and beneficial energies of the 4th of August
Had not only hand arms, but also and above all
The flame in their hearts lawfully to free
Faso forever from the fetters of those who
Here and there were polluting the sacred soul of independence and sovereignty.

And seated henceforth in rediscovered dignity,
Love and honour partnered with humanity,
The people of Burkina sing a victory hymn
To the glory of the work of liberation and emancipation.
Down with exploitation of man by man!
Forward for the good of every man
By all men of today and tomorrow,
By every man here and always!

Popular revolution our nourishing sap.
Undying motherhood of progress in the face of man.
Eternal hearth of agreed democracy,
Where at last national identity has the right of freedom.
Where injustice has lost its place forever,
And where from the hands of builders of a glorious world
Everywhere the harvests of patriotic vows ripen and suns of boundless joy shine.

And one single night has drawn together
The history of an entire people,
And one single night has launched its triumphal march.
Towards the horizon of good fortune.
One single night has brought together our people
With all the peoples of the World,
In the acquisition of liberty and progress.
Motherland or death, we shall conquer.

Government
  • Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
    • President: Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
    • Prime Minister: Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré

Miscellaneous
  • Capital and largest city: Ouagadougou
  • Population: 21,510,181
  • Area: 274,200 km² (105,900 sq mi) (74th)
  • Currency: West African CFA franc (CFA) (XOF)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: BF
  • Country calling code: 226
  • Highest point: Mount Tenakourou (749 m/2,457 ft) (173rd)
  • Lowest point: Black Volta (200 m/656 ft) (62nd)
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