Pinré Village in Burkina Faso

Click on this LINK to see slide show of photos I took on my visit to Pinré village in Burkina Faso.

First we met the chief. That is the first thing you do when you enter an African village. The chief gives you permission to visit. The chief of Pinré is over 100 years old. He has been chief for 60 years. His father was chief before him.

We were greeted with sweet millet water and millet beer, which I drank out of a gourd. We learned how millet, the staple crop, is harvested, stored, and threshed. One of the women was spinning cotton. She used a whorl spindle. This spinning technique is thousands of years old. I’ve tried it myself. It’s hard! She made it look effortless. The thread she spun was strong and even. Cotton fibers are short, which makes cotton one of the hardest textiles to spin. I was impressed.

Then we went to the village center, under the shade of a huge baobab tree. The drumming was loud and exciting. First the men danced, then the women. I wish I had brought along a video camera to record it. It was one of the most wonderful events I’ve ever experienced. You have to remember that the temperature was over 90 degrees. How can people move so fast and so gracefully in such heavy costumes? The looks of joy and concentration on their faces showed that they enjoyed the dancing and drumming as much as I did.

Then the women danced. They had a special dance. The women danced in a line. Then, at a given moment, two women danced out of the line and tried to knock each other off balance with their hips. It had to be done at the right moment and in time to the drumming. It reminded me of a medieval joust. You could tell who was good at this and who wasn’t. It was fun for most, but in the case of a few of the women, you could tell that this was a grudge match. “You won’t knock me off balance.” “Oh yes I will!”

The older women danced first. Then the teenagers. Then the children. The little girls weren’t sure of what to do. They’ll learn, and this is how. By doing.

We visited the village school. Three classes in a concrete buildings. Three teachers. There are about 50-60 children in each class. The lessons are written on the blackboard in chalk. In French, which the children don’t speak. They learn by rote, recited the lesson according to the teacher’s example. There are no textbooks; only notebooks. The village is fortunate. It has a school. Many villages do not. Yet even with a school, the literacy rate in the village is 1%.

On the way back to Ouagadougou, we stopped at a cafe in the town of Zorgho. A couple of buzzards hung around us, looking to see if we’d drop anything. Or if we dropped! Not good publicity for a restaurant, but fairly common in Africa. Vultures are part of the landscape. Like pigeons here, I guess. Our African friends paid no attention to them.

I took some photos of the vans we passed on the way home. Vehicles here in Burkina are important means of transportation. There’s always room for one more person and one more load. It’s not unusual to see vans, trucks, and buses going by with luggage stacked on the roof. You’ll see live sheep up there as well. Bicycles and moped are stacked on the rear bumper. There are always a few brave souls hanging on behind or on top.

I added some music when I put this slide show together in iMovie. Somehow the music got lost when I posted it. I’ll try it again. Maybe I’ll get it right. Meanwhile, enjoy!

I hope that someday you’ll have a chance to visit Africa. I hope I’ll go back again soon.

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