Merry Christmas Burkina Faso

Christmas party 2

So here’s my Christmas party in full swing. At the table are Mrs. Badiel, my neighbor, and her daughter Fanny, two of the cooks, and a collection of local children chowing down. The cooking started quite early in the morning, and by noontime the table was covered with good things. Of course, there was always one more thing to prepare, and so the food didn’t get eaten until about 2:00, but it was still tasty. I provided a bunch of sodas for all the little kids and a couple of bottles of mediocre Spanish wine for the grownups.

Here are the cooks at work. They had a little charcoal brazier outside in the back yard to cook chickens and they brought couscous and sauce from next door and then they fried up enormous quantities of french fries and fried plantains. No doubt terrible for the cholesterol count.

Christmas party 7

The woman in the foreground is the mother of little Grace, who gets the prize for most winsome kid

Grace 2

Almost as cute as my little nieces.

And here I am in my festive garb – actually taken night before last on my way back from the embassy Christmas party, but I wore the same embroidered tunic tonight

Routard 2

I thought it looked pretty cool.

This is pretty much it for my neighborhood. Next week the university needs to move me because January 1st, the landlady is going to take this house back. Her son just got married and he needs a place to live. Mr. Sawadogo from the university has shown me a bunch of houses but I’m not yet sure which one he is going to put me in. Maybe next weekend I’ll be camping at an embassy house again. I’ve acquired some more stuff since I’ve been here; I doubt it will all fit in my two suitcases.

I’m a little bit equivocal about leaving my neighborhood. I’ve made friends here, but also the house is a pain – nothing works very well, from the hot water (barely tepid) to the hallway john (flows all the time) to a variety of non-working light fixtures. The tap water is awful, I have a distiller thanks to the embassy but I’m just waiting for it to get plugged up. The courtyard is nice, and the swing gave me the opportunity to make all those friends. And I am leaving just before my mango tree will start producing hordes of beautiful mangos. I can see them up there now, but they are all green. So Nasir Tahirou is going to eat them. Bummer. On the other hand, it will be good to be closer to the university. Especially when it is 45 degrees (that’s 112 for you metrically-challenged folks; the average high in March and April is 38-39 and the record high temperature recorded was in May at 48 or 118).

Tomorrow, the University of Ouagadougou will be re-named Joseph Ki-Zerbo University. Ki-Zerbo was a famous historian, one of the authors of the UNESCO General History of Africa, and a prominent leader in the movement for national independence. So all us historians are going to show up and honor him at the official re-naming ceremony. I’ll try to take pictures. I should have brought my academic robes but those two suitcases again…

On Tuesday, the new government will be sworn in. President-elect Kaboré will apparently have a working majority in the Assembly, with the decision by the Sankarist party to enter the government. As I said when commenting on this before, this is truly strange bedfellows, since Bénéwendé Sankara was a principled and committed opponent of the Compaoré government for years while Kaboré was a loyal servant of Compaoré until just before the end, but, as my cynical friends at the local eatery said, “he has spent 27 years starving in opposition, now he needs to eat.” So he will no doubt be minister of something or other – there are tons of ministries in the Burkinabè government, many with overlapping mandates, in order to provide for all the folks who need to be made ministers. I’ll see if I can get some pictures of that as well. I’m hoping for another parade.

So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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