Moving!! It’s stressful! We uproot an established life and routine in the hope of something better. It might sound like I moved across continents. In truth, we just moved 4 kilometers from our previous rented house to a new home that’s all ours. This being the very first home owned by us, we planned and tried our best to make everything perfect from the get-go. That was not how things turned out to be in reality. It took nearly 8 months to transform this previously unfamiliar, almost 1000 sq. ft. of space into my tiny paradise. Today I feel like I have earned this Sunday morning when I sit in my cosy living room and give my complete attention to this thus far neglected but dearly beloved blog.
A picture of our thought-cloud book shelf
This preamble is an explanation I am trying to give – mainly to myself – for being unable to write over the past few of months. I am back now with a review of stories from Burkina Faso. It is a landlocked country in West Africa. The population is made of many tribes who have occupied the region from prehistoric times. It is Francophone due to the colonial occupation by France during the European scramble for Africa. It is one of the least developed countries in the world.There is regular migration to Ghana and Ivory Coast for seasonal agricultural work. Slavery in the region dates back to the era of Arab slave trade. Reports say it still exists in the region.
The capital Ouagadougou hosts its own International Arts and Crafts festival and a pan African film festival called FESPACO. As expected there are very few options to read from the country in English. So when I saw the collection of Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso, I could not resist. According to the African Books Collective, the author is engaged in several research projects in Burkinabe culture. Folktales are an amazing way to get an insight into a culture, specially one dominated by tribes where the tales describe their thought process and way of living excellently.
Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso is a collection of stories orally recounted among the Moose tribe. The Mossi are the original and the largest ethnic group in the region of Burkina Faso. The stories are bizarre and often extremely violent. The characters are mostly various animals, each with a distinct attribute associated with it. The hare is usually the protagonist. He is intelligent for sure, but his value system may be quite different from the one we believe in. Occasionally a human character pops in and automatically jumps to the top of the intellectual ladder. The hyena is usually a disliked character trying to pull tricks but in the end paying a price for its stupidity, usually with its life. Various other animals make many interesting appearances in the stories.
The wisdom the stories try to impart may not be immediately relate to the mainstream cultural context. That doesn’t make them any less fascinating. The key takeaways from all these stories seems to be that violence is rampant and inescapable and intelligence is a more helpful tool for survival than honesty.
Other Options from Burkina Faso:
The Twilight of the Bygone Days – Nazi Boni
The Saga of Bwa people and Volta-Bani war
The Parachute Drop – Norbert Zongo
Insight into the psychology of a corrupt African leader