Festivals & Events in Burkina Faso

Bwaba dancing masks and the FESTIMA FESTIVAL, traditional celebration in Burkina Faso

The Bwa wooden masks represent different characters related to the myths of their families and clans. Some masks represent animals, other represent bush spirits. The „plank masks“ are very impressive with a styled face topped by a tall, rectangular plank. Plank masks tend to be painted on both sides with awesome geometrical patterns. Like all masks of the Volta region, the Bwa masks are chromatic with white, red and black as predominant colors.

The days of the dance, everybody in their compound sweep their courtyard, do the rest of their cleaning duties and put on their best traditional outfits for the ceremony. Then, in the middle of the village, people get inpatient. The masks are coming. It is THE event. The masks represent the spirits of the village which guide the life of human beings and Mother Nature. People depend on the fields to survive, the fields depend on the Spirits for their production, and Spirits –some how- depend of the cult offered by the adepts. The Bwa masks represent the symbols relating human beings, Nature and Spirits.

All of a sudden the drums announce the dance. The Spirits arrive in the shape of wooden owls, butterflies, antelopes, buffaloes, and hyenas. The movements are fast, following the rhythm of the drums accompanied by flutes. The audience participates to the ceremony with their songs, comments and laughs. It is a form of street theatre that puts together sacred ancestral traditions and cheerful entertainment. The overwhelming heat of midday puts an end to the celebration. It is then time to rest and share the emotions of this special morning.

Every two years takes place the FESTIMA FESTIVAL at the city of Dedougou:

Great mask festival attended by around 40 villages, each of them represented by their own group of masks: For days the masks dance in the middle of hundreds of people who all came to appreciate their shapes and movements. At that point the festival turns into a collective moment of socialization. There is also the “market of the communities” as well as the cabaret nights when various „griots“ (storytellers) are in competition to reveal their own talent

FESPACO, Festival of the African cinema (February)

The PanAfrican Cinema and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is one of the most important festivals revealing the African cinema. It happens every two years in Ouagadougou, capital city of Burkina Faso.

According to Wikipedia, the main goals of this festival are:

  • Favouring the distribution of every piece of the African cinema,
  • Allowing contacts and exchanges between Cinema, Television and Radio professionals,
  • Encouraging the blossoming, development and protection of the African cinema as a mean of expression, education and social awareness.

The festival was created in 1969. Next 2013, we will celebrate its 23rd edition. This is an ideal event for all those who have a passion for cinema and are looking for quality movies. Ouagadougou and its inhabitants all live to the rhythm of the festival for a week. Therefore, this event is not reserved to an elite at all but rather is a popular celebration of cinematography. It is a good reason to travel to Burkina Faso!

Jazz à Ouaga

The festival „Jazz à Ouaga“ (http://www.jazz-ouaga.org) was created in 1992 in Ouagadougou. In 2014 it will celebrate its 22nd edition.

Ouagadougou is the historical center of the event. But over the past few years, Bobo-Dioulasso and Kedougou have been hosting some concerts too.

Over the years „Jazz à Ouaga“ has become a major festival for all the jazz lovers. The high quality of the artistic program satisfies an always increasing international public.

Dancing masks in March and April. When the masks invoke the rain

Every year when comes the rainy season, many villages in Burkina Faso rely on the masks to get good rains. In the animistic realty, the masks are entrusted to act as intermediaries able to communicate directly with the Gods.

The masks gather to perform a great ceremony. We will recognize among them the antelope, hare, caiman, duck, monkey, snake, and tortoise. All the inhabitants of the savannah will be gathered together along with their spirits ready to perform their dance for our greatest pleasure. As Westerners, we will be fascinated by the beauty of the masks as well as by the complex choreography performed by the dancers, but to the locals this ceremony is a real cult with its share of cheerful exclamations and ovations. The masks have the power to open a breach in the present and make the village slide into another dimension, a world of transcendence.