A week in Leba

During the end of August, we went to a Burkinese village for one week to experience rural life. We have touched the red earth, we have eaten tô, we have improved our Mooré, and we have been drinking a lot of dolo (sorghum beer). Unfortunately, no pictures exists of this last activity …

1 - Biking to Leba

The village Leba is at two hours cycling from Ouahigouya. It is situated near the large but calm road to Ouagadougou. Cycling is easy, since the road is asphalted. Many villages are hardly accessible during the rainy season.

2 – Prospers’ court

Prospers and his family are living on a big court. This mini village is the home to the 'grand family', uniting elders, uncles, aunts, cousins, … On Prospers' court the number of people must exceed 50…

3 – His house and hers

In Burkina Faso, it’s normal for husband and wife to live in separated houses. If the husband takes several wives, he has to construct houses for each one of them. On the left side, you see Prospers’ house (with a nice front door), on the right, the house of his wife Bernadette (with the metal plate at the entrance).

4 – Prospers’ desk

We were staying in Prospers’ house, which exists of two rooms: a bedroom and a living room. The living room has several purposes: Prospers’ meals are served here (men never eat together with their wives and children), and he has installed a desk. On the wall, the following verse is hanging: 'Rien n'est plus gênant pour le travailleur que la présence de ceux qui ne font rien' (Nothing is more embarrassing for the worker than the presence of those who do nothing). We had been warned...

5 – Weeding the peanut field

We came to do some physical work. Prospers has a millet field to feed the family, and apart from that, he has some fields with cash crops. In September, the peanuts will be harvested, but Prospers waits until March – April 2007 to sell them. On that moment, sales prices will be 50 percent higher (8 euros for a bag in September, 12 euros in March – April). He is that smart that he even buys peanuts of other farmers in September to stock them and bring them to the market later on.

6 – Grind stones and granaries

A sort of central stage with grind stones is located in the middle of the court. Women grind the millet to flour. Hard work, if you ask us. Luckily, Leba village disposes of a mechanical petrol mil. For 5 eurocent you can obtain the quantity of flour you need for one family meal. Of course, you must be able to afford it.

In the background, you see the granaries. Every small family unit of the court has its own granary to stock the millet. The head of the family unit possesses the key. He takes what he considers to be sufficient and gives this to his wife who prepares the meal. Often, the woman has to manage to get the rest: oil, vegetables, sauce, spices, …

7 - Shower

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8 – The swimming pool

This idyllic landscape makes you forget the low rank of the country on the human development index list (third to last). Our reticence was too high to take the picture while the pool, on the left side, was filled with children. You'll have to imagine them yourself...

9 – The pig stable

Here and there Prospers manages to mount lucrative activities. One of them is his pig stable. He gives grass to the pigs for them to grow fat! (and also the residues of the dolo brewing).

10 – Asking the elders for their blessings

The old man here is his uncle, but since Prospers father has passed away long ago, he considers him as his own dad. He dates back from the times that Burkinese people tried their luck in Ghana. How glad he was to be able to speak to us in English!

Before you start your daily work and leave the court, you go to the elders to ask for their blessings. The lady on this picture isn’t Prospers real mother either. Still he calls her that way.