Burkina Faso

 

morning

morning

It is certainly interesting to spend 4 days in Burkina, although 2 of them are entirely occupied by the 12 hour journey there and back. The Burkinabés (people of Burkina) at the Gaoua field camp are incredibly welcoming even though there was a considerable language barrier, they certainly don’t understand any of my attempted French. The Gaoua situation is almost an exact mirror of Nsawkaw, being the centre of company operations in Burkina. The fieldcamp itself is considerably more civilised with tiled floors and curtains and such. On the downside the bathroom had no fewer than 40 mosquitos in it and one 2″ long beast, so I tried to minimise my time in there. I was also rudely awoken one night by a lizard noisily committing suicide in my air conditioning unit. The colonial influences are quite noticeable, in Ghana I get given white sliced bread and marmite for breakfast whereas in Burkina it is crepes, baguettes and fromage blanc.

Naba, Odil & Naré

Naba, Odil & Naré

The man in charge at Gaoua is the improbably named Athanase Naré and he showed me both core and the field on the two days I had. He is phenomenally cheerful and has an absurdly sized gold ring along with curiously long fingernails. Staying in the fieldcamp is a visiting professor from the university of Burkina called Professor Naba, who is very useful to have around due to his knowledge of the dating stuff I am to be doing.  There are also a couple of South Africans, who are here to fly some airborne geophysics, and all the geologists who don’t really speak English.

Southern Burkina is much more sparsely vegetated than Ghana, although as it is the wet season everywhere was covered with lush grass and considerable flooding. Curiously they grow a great deal of rice here, despite bordering the Sahara, which I thought was quite strange! The Burkinabés (and northern Ghanaians) build a different style of house, which are made of mud bricks with flat stick roofs covered in mud (or corrugated iron) and then little ramparts to protect the roof from the wind. Their houses are built as large compounds which presumably house more than one family, but these compounds are much more dispersed, not really congregating in villages but being spread all over the place. Each compound also has a larder which is built on sticks off the ground and has a pointy round grass roof, making them look like witches’ cottages and meaning each compound looks a little bit like a castle with a small turret.

Women panning for gold

Women panning for gold

The day spent in the field was interesting as we encountered quite a few Burkinabés. There were several groups of women panning for gold, as apparently it is sacrilegious for men to search for gold here. They were considerably more hostile and the day before I arrived, the geologists carrying out soil samples had been attacked by the locals brandishing machetes. We had to go and pay some ‘dash’ to a local bureaucrat to try and prevent a similar situation occurring again. The situation had arisen because the geologists had refused to pay some locals for the umpteenth time for digging a small hole on ‘sacred’ ground without first paying the sacred fee that presumably makes it less sacred. It sounds like they have many problems here with the locals trying it on to get money which is a stark contrast from Ghana where everyone we met was always happy to meet the geologists.

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~ by goldwhine on 28 August, 2008.

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