Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yesterday I was accompanying a group of farmers which came on a study visit. We went out to one of the villages we are working in to see how the farmers there were doing. There was more than that to see however.... while studying a waterpump at the edge of the water someone suddenly noticed a couple of crocodiles staring at us from a sand bank a few metres away! Welcome on of the aspects of daily working life down here!

Norbert Zongo

Burkina Faso is a peaceful country on a continent in turmoil. Here we are safe from warlords and violent feuds and a culture of respect and peace prevails, despite widespread poverty.
This does not mean Burkina Faso is a model country. It too has its share of political troubles and none of its leaders since the independence in 1960 has come to power without the help of a coup. The person currently in power, Monsieur Blaise Campaoré, has been president since 1987. This despite a constitution which states that a president can only fulfill two terms of five years in office. Because of course, in power means being to get away with changing the constitution in your favor: now the constitution states a president can only fulfill two terms of seven years, and who has done any term of seven years?! Not I, he says…

The current president has been accused of being involved in a political murder case. Ten years ago, a journalist named Norbert Zongo died under suspicious circumstances. Zongo was investigating the death of the driver of the presidents’ brother: Francois Campaoré. This man stole money from Francois Campaoré and paid dearly: he was tortured to death. Zongo, in process of investigating this case, was found burned to death in his car together with three companions. This fact provoked a wave of indignation amongst the Burkinabè, who demanded the truth. However, the government has closed the case, unresolved, and to this day refuses to reopen it. This despite the findings of an Independent Commission of Inquiery which confirm that Zongo was murdered for purely political reasons. But the people of Burkina Faso will not give up. Every year around December 13th there are demonstrations and public actions. Newspapers publish articles, as in the picture above, and students protest. In a peaceful, legal fashion.

I admire the Burkinabè for their perseverance. And their peacefulness, despite the indignation and rage which still burn strong.

And I despise the government for not respecting their legally formulated demand for justice and the truth. Do people really need to use violence to be able to demand their legal rights in this world? The Burkinabè deserve to be treated with the same respect as they treat their government, despite its faults and shortcomings.


Thursday, December 4, 2008


Here I am, in Ouahigouya and working. I have received many curious messages already: how are you? Are you all right? Do you like it? Is it hot?

Answers: Fine. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Ok ok, you probably all want to know more, right?

Well, I arrived in Ouahigouya Monday the 17th of November and started work on Tuesday. I am now still living in a hotel, as it seems to be hard to find a place to live. At least if you are a social person. By this I mean it is no problem to find a big house surrounded by walls, but finding a decent house which shares a “cour” (innergarden) with another family is difficult. As I don’t have any intention on locking myself away from the world here, I am persistant in my search. Sharing a cour will give me a chance to learn the local language (moore), an opportunity to understand the culture and make friends, and also more security. Hopefully something will come up soon…

As for work: fine. My colleagues are very very friendly, I am fond of them already! And for the short time I have worked here I already have a good impression of their methods and attitudes. So it is promising indeed.

As for the city: it is fairly small, very dusty, but quite quiet. As there is not too much traffic I can ride my bicycle around without too much trouble, which is nice and makes me feel free. The biggest problem are the many streets which do not have any lighting at night- don’t forget the bicycle lights!! There is a small motorbike waiting for me here at work, but I feel I need some quiet practice on an empty road before I go out on the road.

The people here are very friendly and helpful, very warm. So is the weather! Even though it is the cold season here now, it is hot during the day. The nights cool down quite nicely though, and I have even bought a small blanket!

So: so far, so good. I am happy to be here and am happy with the situation, even though I see some challenges ahead. But first things first: for now, I will settle for a place to live!


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