Friday, April 1, 2011

Burkina Faso staggering?

Picture taken from Femke van Zeijl
Last week, my friend Martin who lives in Ouagadougou sent me a nice email but ended with the words: "Greetings from a staggering Burkina"

Staggering Burkina? Did I miss something? I don't watch the news here on Ghanaian television, but I keep myself up to date on world news through the BBC and the Belgian VRT. Readers will have noticed that I am very much caught up in the unrest in the Middle-East, but how come I don't even know about trouble less than 200 kilometers north of Tamale?

I rechecked all the RSS-feeds I am following and there is nothing, nothing about Burkina Faso. So I had to ask Martin: What the hell is going on?

Martin was so kind to give me the following update:

Dear Wim,

We are at the edge of a revolution.

In February, Justin Zongo, a student was tortured to death in the police station of Koudougou but 'meningitis' was announced as the official cause of death. his colleagues around the whole nation took the streets in protest of this brutal act, even burning down police stations and other government buildings.
The government has taken measures, fired several responsibles and arrested the suspected police officers. The schools and universities are closed down for the time being.

Then the 22nd of March, the complete opposite happened: a group of soldiers had attacked a civilian (because one of the military men was interested in his girlfriend). The soldiers got punished to serve time in prison and their colleagues did not agree. Army men went into Ouagadougou by night and looted uncountable stores and gas stations. That same night, the convicted soldiers were set free again.

In his turn, this provoqued the judges and lawers who are now on a strike as their job is no longer taken seriously.

And the shop owners will also take the streets to protest that they (or their colleagues) have lost all that took years to build up. The government promised to compensate the damage, but a demonstration has already been planned. As the schools are about to get open again, the students will probably organise themselves as well. The air is getting quite hot here at the moment...

So Martin, thank you for the update. I am still wondering why the BBC didn't mention anything about this, don't they have any correspondent in Ouagadougou? Or is this seen as "not interesting"? The same about the current curfew here in Tamale which is now going into its third day. I have to admit, I don't feel threatened at all and it might be small on the world scale, but still I feel a bit insulted that this is not worth mentioning in any major newssite.

Dear BBC,

by this blog entry I now apply to become your new correspondent for Tamale, Ghana. I am not asking for any big allowance, I trustworthy internet connection would be more than enough to do the trick.

Yours sincerely,





  1. Last night, the president's own guard started a mutiny over unpaid allowances. The mutiny spread to other military units.

    Guns were used on the site of the presidential compound and today, gunshots could still be heard in the city.

    It is the third time in two months that president Compaore has been confronted by the armed forces.


  2. Een citaat uit het nieuwe verslag van Martin:

    Geen woord over de diepe crisis waarin het land verzeild is. Geen woord over de militairen die zonder ophouden in de lucht schieten, winkels en hotels leegroven, auto’s en motors in beslag nemen, burgers martelen, kortom compleet losgeslagen zijn.

  3. The situation has calmed down again since Sunday morning. I quote from Martins recent email:

    De situatie is weer volledig gekalmeerd sinds zondagochtend. Regering weggestuurd, wat legerchefs vervangen. Nu afwachten wat de nieuwe prime minister voor nieuwe ministers aan gaat stellen. En het zou heel mooi zijn, en wellicht definitief opgelost, als daarnaast onze president zou verklaren de grondwet niet te veranderen. Daar zijn ze namelijk voorbereidingen voor aan het treffen zodat hij straks in 2015 verkiesbaar is om aan zijn 5e mandaat te beginnen.

  4. Burkina Faso: misère et corruption, un cocktail explosif. Les populations en colère souhaitent une distribution plus équitable des richesses disponibles dans le pays, qui pour l’instant profitent surtout à un clan de privilégiés proches du pouvoir. Le président de la République Blaise Compaoré, en fonction depuis bientôt un quart de siècle, parviendra-t-il à calmer le mécontentement de ses concitoyens?

    (April 18)


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