One weekend in early November we were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Banfora with friends, Stephan & Neusa and their two children Ulysse and Agathe. Banfora is a picturesque town set amongst an expanse of sugar cane fields about 1-1.5 hours away from Bobo-dioulasso. As it’s near the border of the Ivory Coast the region in general is a lot lusher than the majority of Burkina.
Over the weekend we went for a rickety wooden canoe (or pirogue) ride on Lake Tengrela, a lake known for its hippo herd. Unfortunately lake levels were too high (due to it being the end of the rainy season) for us to have any chance of spotting hippos that day.
We also spent a morning at the impressionable Domes of Fabedougou. These bulbous rock formations are thought to be around 1.8 billion years old. Interestingly apparently there is a geographically identical feature in Western Australia, the Bungle Bungle Range which draws thousands of tourists each year (unlike Burkina’s domes).
Photos of our visit to Banfora can be seen here and here.
One Sunday in October a group of us went to visit the village of Koumi, a small traditional Bobo village not far from Bobo-dioulasso. We were quite a large group of tourists, myself & Benoit, Helen (the trip was in her honour as it was her birthday), Eve, Simon & family and Neusa & her two children making us 12 in total.
In Koumi the houses are constructed banco style, using layers of red earth rather than mud bricks. These earth houses are made in, usually five, layers (or courses). The villagers are in fact banned from building with the more modern and more waterproof mud bricks. Sadly, as a result many of the earth brick houses have been left abandoned as villagers moved to housing areas without this restriction.
Another interesting facet of the visit was the scattering of mysterious holes on the outskirts of the village. These holes lead to women-only caves. Each family in the village has one and the women descend in order of seniority into these underground grottos to gossip, weave baskets, and pass on family secrets and traditions.
Photos of our visit to Koumi can be seen here and for an interesting French account of the visit see Simon’s post here.
The same day we visited the village of Koro we made a second stop. This time it was to visit the sacred fish pools of dafra (Bobo for catfish). The sacred pools are located just outside Bobo-dioulassa and are a place where the Bobo people go to worship & provide offernings/sacrifices (chicken, sheep, cow etc) to these overfed looking catfish.
On entering the region a sacrifice needs to be acquired (we opted for a chicken) and local guide engaged. Once we had chosen our chicken & guide we then made our way to the entrance of the sacred pools. The entrance is a half hour walk from the parking area and this scenic walk provided panoramic views of the area and arriving harmattan . Before entering the sacred area you must first remove any red clothing or accessories as apparently the sacred catfish do not like this colour. After arriving the formalities of sacrificing the chicken (something I have to admit I was not able to watch) were needed before we could to offer it up to the catfish. The catfish of course devoured it hungrily as can be seen in Benoits pictures here .
Eve and family also went to visit the weekend after we did and have some great photos posted here as well.
One Sunday along with Thales (a VSO volunteer visiting Bobo for the weekend) we went to visit the village of Koro. Koro is a small village of around 3100 inhabitants situated 15km from Bobo-Dioulasso. The village is constructed on a steep stub of granite and as a result provided panoramic views of the surrounding valley. While it was build high for strategic purposes this poses a daily inconvenience to the villagers. Their water supply is situated at the bottom and is retrieved by a constant stream of women carrying large containers of water (on their heads nonetheless) up the steep path to the village.
The village is divided into three distinct parts, “le quartier des paysans”, “le quartier des forgerons” and “le quartier des Dioula”. The first two, the farmer’s district and the ironmonger’s district are inhabited by members of the Bobo ethnicity, one of Burkina Faso’s animistic ethnicities. The third is home to a number of members from another one of Burkina’s 60 odd ethnicities, the Dioula. Traditionally known as traders or merchants the dioula are usually either Muslim or Catholic.
Some of Benoit’s pictures of Koro can be seen here and mine here