Location: Sabou, Burkina Faso, Africa
Weather Conditions: 88 F (30 C)
Tenkodogo, which is located in east central Burkina. On our way to Tenkodogo, we crossed the beautiful Nakambi river (also known as the White Volta), which is one of three major rivers that begin in Burkina Faso. The small, beautiful, and energetic village of Tenkodogo was bustling when we arrived, as the mass of trucks traveling from Mali to the coast of Ghana were stopped to rest — driving on the roads in Burkina Faso is definitely left only to professionals! In fact, drivers have developed an entire communication system through the way they use their headlights, horn, and turn signals. These signals note where they are on the road, their requests for passing, how safe the road is ahead to pass, and numerous other things we simply have not yet figured out – and we are about to hop on the motorcycles tomorrow!
During our short stay in Tenkodogo, we stopped at the Bagre Dam where a resort was just nearing construction with the hopes of opening later this year. The resort was quite beautiful and all the sand had been brought in from Ghana. After the Bagre Dam, we had the honor of meeting with the first of four Kings of Burkina Faso. We were very nervous, but the meeting was extraordinary as we followed majesty protocol led by our friend, Simone, and Romaric. We were able to record the King’s thoughts on education and sustainability as we learned about the challenges within his community and throughout the country. Most importantly, the King spoke of health and opportunity as the foundations of education in Tenkodogo. We learned a great deal from our meeting with the King and are looking forward to sharing his insights with all of you upon our return.
On Thursday (January 13), we travelled to the town of Fada N’gourma. Fada is known for its miel du Gourma, a locally produced honey available throughout the town. While in Fada, we were able to visit a teacher training school. The school had sixteen computers for approximately 650 students. While touring the library we were able to record another interview on education from a teacher-in-training who was in the midst of studying from the book, Guide of Pedagogy. Look for this interview on the Environetwork soon!
The following morning, Friday, January 14, we were back in Ouagadougou. Our day started with a traditional presentation at the King’s palace called, “False Departure.” False Departure is a story about the King of Ouagadougou deciding not to leave by horse to go to war with his brother, a neighboring king. After the re-enactment, we had the privilege of personally meeting with the Mogho Naba, the King of Ouagadougou. To date, we have met two of four Kings in Burkina. We continue to be humbled and honored by our experiences here in this beautiful country.
That same day we visited a local radio station that outputs stations in sixteen languages throughout Burkina – Radio Rurale and Radio Urban. We saw the both the traditional and new age technologies they use at the radio station. We also learned that radio is an important means of information, traditional cultural music, stories, and education dissemination throughout the country, especially in the deep villages of Burkina.
We left early Saturday morning (January 15) to visit the Nazenga Animal Preserve. We were very excited for this brief hiatus in nature. It was a rough four-hour drive to the preserve, but we were able to record a roadside interview with a young man who was transporting cotton back to the local village. We arrived late in the afternoon at Nazenga, so we were a bit worried we weren’t going to have enough time to see some of the “Big 5“. Well, luck was on our side. Within an hour leaving the camp, we saw a family of baboons and two separate families of 15+ elephants with several calves. We were also able to photograph several kingfishers and other colorful birds. It was simply a wonderful afternoon.
Sunday morning (January 16) we departed for Romaric’s hometown of Sabou, which is approximately sixty miles southwest of Ouagadougou. Sabou is known for its lake that contains more than 100 sacred crocodiles. Romaric shared that the locals actually fish and swim in this lake! When we arrived, we were welcomed with a truly breathtaking celebration including traditional dancers, a group of Sabou drummers, and the Chief of Sabou. The entire town came out to welcome the Earthducation team and Romaric back to his home village – more than a few tears were shed as we walked up to the celebration. After the celebration, we had the honor of having lunch with the Chief and Secretary General of Sabou, as well as six of Romaric’s uncles and a few family friends. Lunch consisted of cous-cous and a chicken sauce, guinea hen (quickly becoming a delicious food theme of the expedition), and Tô, the traditional dish in Burkina Faso, which Romaric describes as “a dense cream of rice with a thick, leaf-based sauce.”
After lunch, Aaron and Charlie were invited to dance with the welcoming party – an extraordinary group of concentric circular rings of dancers and the Sabou locals. We used hand-held instruments crafted out of wooden bowls lightly fastened together with straw to a stick and did our best to mimic the dancers that surrounded us (watch the Trail Report overview for a preview of this dance). Then, we visited the Sabou Primary School, experienced the local bronze sculptures, walked with the sacred Sabou crocodiles, and … you know what? There is just too much to share. More details to come in the next update! Stay tuned!
Remember, the primary goal of the Earthducation project is to create a global narrative of the diverse intersections between education and sustainability. The only way we will be able to accomplish this is with your help – you can browse through the EnviroNetwork to view current perspectives. Please share your own narrative! We are counting on you!