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Burkina Faso Independence Day: Exploring a Unique History

Aug 05, 2020 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa


Today, August 5th, is Burkina Faso’s Independence Day. This country, situated in West Africa, is home to a strong historical presence, gorgeous architecture, diverse cultures and delicious food. Let’s take a journey inside the jewels of Burkina Faso.

(Market women in Burkina Faso)

The semi-legend of Princess Yennenga says that between the 14th and 15th century, a young princess migrates from what is now known as Northern Ghana to Burkina Faso after her father refuses to find her a husband. Her father, Mossi or Dagomba Chief Nedega, has raised Yennenga as a boy and trained her to be a master hunter and fighter, but she wants a different life for herself. When she arrived at present day Burkina Faso, she meet an elephant hunter, Riale, who also ran away from the Malinke tribe. They get married and conceived a son who they call Ouedraogo. Ouedraogo became a powerful warrior and found the Mossi Empire. Queen Yennenga is known as the mother of the Mossi in Burkina Faso and is a symbol of African feminism.

(Portrait of an African woman)

The Mossi Empire predominantly rules Burkina Faso until French colonialists interrupted their history in the late 1800’s. The Mossi however do not go down without a fight.

(A Mossi troupe)
(A Mossi Mask)

Upon colonizing the country, the French coins it The Upper Volta, a name the country keeps, even after gaining independence on August 5th, 1960. However, in 1984, Thomas Sankara, legendary freedom fighter and then president, changed the country’s name to Burkina Faso, which merges the Mossi and Dioula language, and means ‘Land of Incorruptible People.’

(Women in Kaya, Burkina Faso make bread)

 The capital city of Burkina Faso, Ougadougou, which is spelled ‘Wagadugu’ in the Mossi language, translates to ‘You are welcome home here with us.’ People from the country are called Burkinabe, a singular and plural term which means ‘Upright people.’

Tiebele, Burkina Faso, is made of beautiful architecture. Walking through the village is like going on an art excursion. Explore some of their structures here:

(Tiebele, Burkina Faso)
(The Tiebele Royal Court)
(Tiebele, Burkina Faso)
(Tiebele, Burkina Faso)

 There are around 66 known ethnic groups in Burkina Faso. More than half of the country is made up of the Mossi tribe. Other ethnicities include the Fulani, Tuareg, Bobo, Gurma, Gurunsi, Senufo, Busansi (Bissa,) Dogon, Bambara and more. The Peul (Fulani) and Tuareg are the main indigenous ethnic groups of the country. 

(Peul women sell mats in Gorom-Gorom, Burkina Faso)

Since 1966, the country has experienced 9 coup d’états, and suffers from political instability and droughts. Although it experiences poverty like many other places in the world, the soil is rich with natural resources like manganese, gold, copper, zinc, limestone, dolomite and more.

(Burkinabe people walking on a road)
(Burkinabe chief)


Burkinabe cuisine consists of soups, stews and milk drinks. It is known for its local strawberries. Some of the country’s dishes include TÖ (mashed millet or sorghum,) Sauce Gumbo (okra stew,) Ragout Dl’gname (vegetable stew with meat,) Poulet Bicyclette (grilled chicken with carrots and potatoes,) Rizgras (rice with meat, onions and tomatoes) and Babenda (fish stew with fermented beans and cabbage or fish.)



Happy Independence Day to Burkina Faso from FunTimes. We invite you to celebrate the colorfulness of Burkina Faso with us, especially today! What facts do you know about the country? Comment below!