Bobo Dioulasso, the artist city
After spending a few weeks in a small city, the second stop of my Burkina trip is Bobo Dioulasso. According to my guide, it seems really promising, it is the second city of Burkina Faso and where a lot of the cultural manifestations are concentrated.
During my African journey, I decided to volunteer in different associations. It was, for me, a way to feel helpful and to help me discover a culture that I didn’t know at all. In Bobo, I have been hosted by ASOF Burkina. This association is helping kids outside of the school system. They take them over for a year, give them classes and artistic initiation in order to help them to get back to the classic school. The future of these kids don’t only depend on them, it is also the parent responsibility, ASOF is going sensibilization action with the parents to make sure that the kids grow up in a right environment.
I’m with them during the annual break, so there are no classes every day and instead, we put in place artistic activities: dancing, painting, acting. I hope that it brings them some fun over the summer. It is not easy to interact with these kids, there is the language barrier for some of them and the fact that I am a white adult. The interaction between kids and adult is very different from where I grew up. Although, I could see in their smile and their passion when they were dancing that they were happy.
In addition to my actions with the kids, I gave Excel classes to school headmasters. They didn’t know Excel at all and some of them never used a computer before or not for a very long time. It was a challenge but they end up with a lot of new skills and a tool to manage students’ marks.
Meanwhile doing all this, I discovered Bobo and the artists leaving there. After spending years behind a computer, being among so many artists was really amazing. When you visit Bobo you can see bronze craftsmen, wood sculptor, and so many other artists. You have to be careful and meet several of them to be sure that you are buying good quality art pieces at the right price (if you are white, you are supposed to be rich and buy everything you see so live with it…). If you know a local, ask him to take you to different places and after that, you can make your choice. I have to say that I already bought all the gift that I wanted to get, I wasn’t sure to have that much possibility for the rest of my trip.
There are 3 others artists/association that I want to talk about: a dancer, a painter and an association of weavers.
Let start with dance, it’s the main topic of all my trip so, of course, I wanted to learn some African moves. ASOF asked Pascal to do some classes to me and the kids. We learn dansia, gourounsi, two of the traditional dances in Bobo area. Pascal is a really passionate dancer, it was really fun to learn with him and be accompanied by a djembe. I, of course, took some film and I hope to share this with you very soon.
After dancing, I did some painting with Bouba Wati. This artist is giving some drawing classes to ASOF kids and with my help, they have been able to use paint. I have to say that I was at first a bit skeptic what the kids or even me are gonna finish with? It is not so easy to have a good result. Although with the methods and the help of Wati, the kids’ painting are amazing. So good that I had to try myself, I did two canvas and I am pretty proud of them, I couldn’t dream of a better souvenir to bring back.
I liked Wati work so much that I am coming with some of his canvas to France, so if by any chances you’ll be interested don’t hesitate to contact me!
Last but not least, I met an association of women who weave traditional fabrics. They walk me through the complete process of their work, it’s so much work but the result is amazing. For the sewing bee that I am, it was an incredible opportunity and it gave me so many ideas. I will keep you posted I will need first to get back to my sewing machine.
I really spend a great time in Bobo mainly due to the people that I met during my stay. Bobo is a vibrant city, if I come back I will try to synchronize my trip with one of the many cultural manifestations. I leave you with the pictures and, until next time, keep exploring.