Burkina Faso recently made international headlines when its citizens deposed the country’s president, Blaise Compaoré, after he attempted to amend the constitution in an effort to retain his leadership position (despite holding the office for 27 years). Most news photos of the events surrounding the uprising depicted street scenes in and around the nation’s capital, Ouagadougou.
However, the fast-paced urban environment found in the Burkina Faso’s largest city is the exception to the rule in a country that otherwise prides itself on a more leisurely pace of life. Nowhere is this laid back mindset more evident than in small towns and villages that spring up along the country’s highways and byways.
A child hawks eggs at a roadside produce stand outside Ouagadougou.
This is the “land of the upright people” for which the country is named. Locals are quick to offer warm smiles and greetings in French or one of the many tribal languages represented across the nation. People here are proud of their unique cultural histories and eager to share their stories with curious visitors. Food, tribal affiliations, architecture and art can vary appreciably from one region to another, particularly between the arid northeast and tropical southwest. These differences are reminders of the nation’s diverse constituency, and are part of the unique cultural fabric that makes Burkina Faso such a special place in West Africa.
Villagers work in a rice field near Fabedougou.
A woman and her child walk past a row of homes and shops in a village located along a stretch of the N1 highway, which connects the country’s two largest cities.
Workers laugh and talk during a shift change at a mango processing facility that provides job opportunities to Burkinabé women in the community.
Children play outside the walls of their small village along the N1 highway near Boromo.
Flood waters block passage for commuters trying to cross a bridge leading to Bobo-Dioulasso.
The rich aroma of grilled meat and roasted vegetables wafts up from a street side restaurant near Sabou.
Men wear masks to protect their lungs from the hot particulate generated during the cashew roasting process at a factory outside Banfora.
A glimpse through a break in the stone walls at the Ruins of Loropéni, Burkina Faso’s only UNESCO World Heritage site, shows a now-verdant interior that a millennia ago was a bustling town and strategic stopping point along the trans-Saharan gold trade route.
Members of the Gan tribe enjoy a warm afternoon in their village outside Gaoua.
In the country’s southwest corner, two riders navigate the singular dirt road connecting the cities of Banfora and Gaoua.
Check out more high-resolution shots of Burkina Faso in my set on Flickr.