Nisa Maier / Contributor
Burkina Faso is definitely not on every travelers agenda and actually this also applied to me, but a few circumstances still brought Ulli and I to the Land of Upright People. An easy visa process (at least from Austria), a fair flight-deal with Air France and the month of February, which is considered the best time to visit Burkina Faso.
Hello, Ouagadougou. So off we were and Ouagadougo, the capital of Burkina Faso, greeted us with mellow and dry 28 degrees Celsius. We found a great little place to stay at called Pension Micha in the outskirts of the city. The owner was very helpful and a great source for any information. On top she even spoke German, English and French. She had been living in Burkina Faso for many years as an NGO representative and therefore knew every corner of the country.
"But Banfora especially caught our attention due to its market."
Off To Bobo Dioulasso and Banfora. Since we just had two weeks, we had to quickly decide where to go. We opted for the Southwest and didn’t regret it for a second. Buses from Ouagadougou run frequently and one could even travel by train to Banfora (twice a week) and further down to Côte d’Ivoire. We went with the bus to Bobo Dioulasso. Here we settled into Villa Rose, a very nice and comfortable bed and breakfast run by a Dutch/Burkina couple.
Our trip continued further Southwest and after a few bush taxi rides, we arrived in Banfora. This town is the stepping off point to some very extraordinary natural sights like the Karfiguela Waterfalls and Sindou Rock formations. But Banfora especially caught our attention due to its market.
We always begin our exploration with a visit to the local market. And markets in Burkina Faso will definitely not disappoint you! A lot is on display and people are eager but not super persistent to sell you something. The most interesting market section was a bit further away from the main section.
"It was indeed a gruesome gallery of lifeless faces staring at you."
Here men and women advertise their service in the field of homemade remedies. We could smell the Voodoo fetish market before we actually saw it, a stench of decomposition and an alley of mud brick houses. The goods on sale here were desiccated heads, feed, insides of monkeys, buffaloes, cheetahs, chameleons, birds and crocodiles, as well as varieties of snake skins and bat wings. It was indeed a gruesome gallery of lifeless faces staring at you.
We approached one vendor and pointed to his sign and his offers. He told us he was a traditional healer and could mix us a formula for any condition we might have. We kindly refused his offer, yet his is very original advertising banner caught our attention. Instead of buying herbs or spices for our sexual desire, we just bought his banner.
These witch doctors are common in Burkina Faso and people still believe very strongly in their healing powers – or rather what we call Voodoo. West Africa is where Voodoo originated, and where it still plays a significant part in everyday life. But forget zombies, black magic and sticking pins in dolls; real Voodoo is an animist belief system and also the official religion of Benin.