Burkina Faso


Figure 1.--This photograph was taken in Burkina Faso, at the time Upper Volta, during the 1970s. Since French colonial times, cotton as been a key agricultural crop in Burkina Faso. Because of the poverty, many younger children do not wear clothing. A reader writes, "I don't think that the lack of clothing is only a matter of poverty. It is also a climatic and cultural matter. There was no necesity to wear clothing in regions where children usually went naked."

Burkina Faso is the west African country south of Mali and north of Ghana. The country was part of Frechwest Africa durung the colonial era. It was formerly known as Upper Volta. The tribal chiefs had long desired that Upper Volta be restored as a territorial unit. Partly as a reward for their loyalty, the French did so (1947). Upper Volta became involved in the de-colonization process after the French defeat in Vietnam and the outbreak of fighting in Algeria (early-1950s) Voters in Upper Volta approved the new constitution of the Fifth French Republic and Upper Volta's territorial assembly made the country an autonomous state within the French Community. This placed authority not with the traditional chiefs, but with the young, French-educated elite. Upper Volta achieved independence (1960). The population is about 15 million. The capital is Ouagadougou (1.4 million). Other cities include: Bobo-Dioulasso (0.5 million), and Koudougou (0.1 million). The trrain is savanna with brushy plains and scattered hills. The climate is Sahelian. It is one of the West African countries most adverselyvaffected by desertification. There are pronounced wet and dry seasons. The people are referred to as Burkinabe. The country is ethnically highly diverse. There are 63 different African tribal (ehnic). The Mossi are the most important tribe, representing about half the population. Other importantvtribes include: Bobo, Mande, Lobi, Fulani, Gourounsi, and Senufo. The dominant religion is Islam (55 percent). Therre are also traditionalnanimists (20 percent) and Christians (25 percent). Because ofthe ethnic diversity, French is the official language. Infigenous lanaguages are widely spoken, including Moore, Dioula, and others. The country is very poor with a weak educational system. Only about 25 percent bof the country is literate. A factor here besides the poverty is that books for the most part are printed in French and becoming literate largely bmeand learning a foreign language. Public health statistics are also low. The infant mortality rate is 86/1,000 (2008). Life expectancy is 52 years (2008). Agriculture accounts for avbout 90 percent of the economy and has been adversely affected by desertification. The French introduced cotton as a major crop and it is today the most important commercial crop.







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Created: 11:22 AM 9/1/2010
Last updated: 11:22 AM 9/1/2010