It no-fooling does:
It was the patronal feast of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – actually the day is December 8th, but they celebrated today, it being the nearest Sunday. I heard about this last week and decided to come down and see the big show. They did not disappoint – they had beautiful choir music, drumming, dancing, a big fair with booths and what have you, and the afore-mentioned marching band. And the president-elect, I think. Anyway, a big man with a very familiar-looking face in a nice suit was sitting in the front row with his family, and on his way out lots of people stopped him to shake his hand. The only thing that makes me wonder is that there was no apparent security. When Obama goes to church, the Secret Service is all over the place like spots on an old tablecloth. There were tons of people around Roch, if it was him, any one of whom could have been armed and evilly-intentioned, and so sign of security protection at all. The transitional president, Michel Kafondo, went to Mass at the Papal Nunciature in order to avoid security issues (and because it was convenient to the presidential palace).
The Cathedral was built in 1934 by the French. It is a very nice-looking place, very classic sort of colonial architecture and made out of locally-produced earth bricks. The building in the background is the archbishop’s palace.
(Image credit: Sputniktilt via Wikimedia Commons, better than my shot)
And the interior:
But, as you can see, it is pretty small. In fact, it is smaller than the place I usually go, Saint Camille. They had maybe 1,000 people tops in there and it was terribly packed. Another thousand were standing around outside. And the outside loudspeakers didn’t even work, unlike at Saint Camille. The archdiocese of Ouaga is raising money to build a very nice-looking new cathedral, out in Ouaga 2000. Like everything else in Ouaga 2000, though, it will be a lot harder for ordinary people to get to since it is 10 km farther from where most of them live.
I hung out with a priest at the cathedral, a Fr. Mathieu, last week, and he is my source for some of my information about things Catholic in Burkina. He had a Fulbright to study in the US and got a Master’s in conflict and peacemaking studies. He is using his skills working in the community of Dori, in the north, helping local NGOs fund development projects and hopefully building inter-religious harmony (Dori is about 99% Muslim). Dori is the home town of Djibi and his brother Amadou.
Unfortunately, as I was arriving at the church, a guy stopped me and told me it was forbidden to ride my bike beyond the gate, a sensible precaution, and then he told me about the handicapped association and their handicrafts – though he did not appear to be handicapped himself – and he misinformed me about a couple of things, and I began to realize that he was not anybody associated with the cathedral but instead a wandering art salesman. Downtown, where the few tourists hang out, there are these very aggressive salesmen (all men) who want to sell you overpriced tourist art. I guess this guy figured me for a tourist and had some slightly religiously themed art to show and took his chance to pursue a client. He wouldn’t give up. He hung out outside the door of the church and picked me up again on leaving, even though I intentionally stayed a long time inside after the end of mass, saying a Rosary at the little Mary chapel and then taking some pictures. But this fellow wasn’t giving up. I tried to tell him I wasn’t paying any 50$ for a little 50 x 50 cm bit of fabric. Even if I could afford those prices I have to transport everything I buy here back in two pieces of luggage. Finally, I had to get a little rude. It kind of spoiled the buzz. I hate being pressured by a sales guy.
After church, I went down to la Patte d’Oie and hung out with Djibi and Mariatou and Amadou and the charming Rachid:
They toss out millet and plenty of birds come and desport themselves in the courtyard to the immense enjoyment of Rachid. I took some pictures for any of my birdwatching buddies to take note of:
Mostly Little Brown Jobs as seen above, but these two brightly-colored fellows were flocking with them and also eating the millet. It doesn’t show up well in the photo but the blue guy has a red cheek patch.
We humans ate rice with a very nice peanut sauce, my favorite!