I had never been to Burkina Faso before the moving Africa programme and I hadn’t heard much about it in the news. So when I was contacted by the Goethe Institut in Uganda to attend the 7th edition of the Récréâtrales in Ouagadougou the first thing I did was Google search Burkina Faso and there was a BBC country profile “ Burkina Faso - A poor country even by West African standards, landlocked Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts and, until the 1980s, military coups…”
Undauntedly I searched my country’s profile and it wasn’t very flattering either- these were cold facts that did not capture the spirit and the beauty of the Ugandan people. So I made a vow to make my own conclusions about Burkina Faso. Once I was there, I came to a conclusion that Burkina Faso might be a poor country, but it is very rich in art and the Burkinabe have big hearts.
I got my visa on the very day I was travelling, boarded Ethiopian airways and it was like sitting in a bus from Uganda to Ouagadougou, but that is fine, I was high on expectations. When we landed I knew I should have done a weather s earch because I wasn’t ready for the heat in Ouagadougou. I was told by the locals that it gets as hot as 50°C!... So off the plane, there was a moment of panic when we couldn’t see our Goethe contact…and then she came for us. Thekla was very welcoming. It was a 15 minute drive from the airport to our hotel, I noticed that the cars we consider luxurious in Uganda like Mercedes Benzes are used as taxis in Ouaga yes they are in a dilapidated condition, but still… and there are more motorcycles on the roads than cars… there was a moment of hope, in Uganda our “bodabodas”- motorcycle taxis can get you anywhere, well in Ouaga, the motorcycles are private property and the conservative Ugandans would be shocked that the women ride them too!
We checked into the hotel and anxiously went to the festival village, there was little activity at 3pm as it was hot and the performers were getting ready night performances, but the village was beautifully transformed with contemporary art pieces in the street, people’s backyards were transformed into theater stages. At night the street is lit up, the locals sell spicy foods on the street and with different performances all around you, there is a lot to choose from.
I watched performances that left me breathless..., Shakespeare with a contemporary touch, Greek mythologies other contemporary pieces, two men and one woman shows, the actors were so amazing, they had so much passion! I lived, breathed art in Ouagadougou it spoiled me for ordinary life and inspired me. Thanks to the Goethe institute I met beautiful people from Ghana, Cameroon, Congo, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, France and the Burkinabe are so friendly! I got contacts for future co-productions, potential funders and learnt a lot about the world of theatre.