All the Sahelian markets are crazy colourful and animated, but the
Thursday market in the northern Burkinabe city of Gorom Gorom may be
the finest that I visited. Plentiful cheap beer, transport that
functions, friendly and educated people and far fewer hassles than Mali
make Burkina Faso my recommended 1st choice destination for first time
West Africa vacationers who can speak some French. The sights are
lower profile on the publicity scale than their counterparts in Mali
but no less satisfying in the end.
These vendors sell rice and millet from humanitarian donor agencies
(many USAID logos on the sacks) at subsidized prices to local rural
folks. Despite the positive attitudes and smiles, Burkina remains
one of the half dozen poorest countries in the world, in the same stew
as their Sahelian neighbours Niger, Mali and Mauritania.
Straw vendors in Gorom Gorom.
In the livestock portion of the Gorom Gorom market, mostly Songhai and
Fula herders peddle sheep, cattle and camels.
One of the surprisingly few areas in West Africa where traditional
painted houses are maintained is in southern Burkina, near the Ghanaian
border. This is the archetype of such towns, Tiebele, where local
women are preparing the paints from local ingredients. Repainting
takes place once every few years.