We are distinct as a species because of our diversity. The latter is the best description of a scenario in which two elements are not of the same kind. They may have the same physical features, but they’re not the same in other ways. The human population is no exception. Aside from skin tone and hair texture, we have nearly identical physical features. Our cultural diversity, which is largely influenced by our place of origin, adds to our uniqueness. In terms of the country, each location has its own culture that distinguishes the people and sets them apart from the rest. In this paper, we examine Burkina Faso’s society in order to better understand the reality of the situation. History of the Culture
Burkina Faso is in the African continent more so the Western part and it is a landlocked country. This means that Burkina Faso does not border any large water vessels and it is surrounded by other countries. The country lies between the Sahara desert and the Gulf of Guinea. The climate of the region is largely tropical with two distinct weather patterns being witnessed throughout the years. It has the dry and rainy seasons.
Politically, the country was once colonized by the French but it gained independence in 1960 (Manson, Knight, and Harvey, 26). Today, Burkina Faso is one of the most celebrated African countries in terms of political stabilities. The country exercises a Republican form of governance with a semi-presidential approach. Manson, Knight, and Harvey (26) explain that Burkina Faso has both a Prime minister and a President. The previous being the head of governance while the latter heading the State.
The culture of the country is commonly referred to as Burkinabe. It is practiced by over 60 different ethnic groups that all live in harmony. Kuba and Hein explain that the Mossi make up the majority of the ethnic groups with over half of the entire population. The second largest group is the Fulani. The national language is French but the majority of those living in the rural areas will converse in their native languages. In terms of religion, the majority are Muslims then followed by Christians.
Uniqueness of the Culture
The Burkinabe culture is different because of the strong sense of togetherness that it calls for. This is more so by the meaning of the term Burkina from which the title of the culture is derived from. Burkina means “land of the incorruptible” (Bertelsmann Stiftung) as such, their culture calls for truth, justice, and unity at all times. This they have managed to do irrespective of the fact that there are more than 60 ethnic groups practicing the same culture. From this point of view, one can easily see how they differ with their neighbors. Having mentioned above that the country enjoys political stability due to its cultural practices; the same cannot be said for its neighbor countries such as Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Liberia which have witnessed political unrest at some point.
Consequently, it can be understood that political conditions foster the culture in terms of calling for the people to be unity and work together for the benefit of their country. Given my research on the Burkinabe culture, what I found to be the most unique has to be their intermixing. The culture does not hinder any form of and this is unique because the more the people interact, the more they become educated on the others’ ethnicity thus acceptance and tolerance amongst the population.
Common Foods Used by the Culture
Food is one of the most important elements of a culture further helps in the analysis of the Burkinabe practices. The common foods eaten by the people of Burkina Faso include To, Fufu, Riz Gras, fish, chicken and assorted vegetables in form of stew. Ingredients are a variety and the most common are millet, corn, sorghum, baobab leaves and rice amongst others. According to Albala (78), Riz Gras is the national dish that will be eaten during celebrations and holidays. The dish is prepared out of rice and either beef or chicken but the latter is most preferred.
Meal Patterns and Etiquette
Generally, the Burkinabe culture follows the three daily meal patterns of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The common food eaten for breakfast in the rural areas will be tea accompanied with yams or bread. For the modern setting, Albala (27) explains that most food places will offer coffee and fried eggs. Lunch and dinner will be centered on To which will be accompanied by a sauce. For those who can afford, To will be supplemented with either rice or pasta. Sauces are made from baobab and or Sorrel leaves, chicken, fish or beef. It is important to highlight that those in rural areas rarely eat beef because it is expensive. Snacking is most common for the urban setting than rural. Food in Burkinabe culture plays an important role of calling the family together more so during dinner where they can catch up on the day’s activities.
Major Religions of the Culture
It has been mentioned above that Islam is the popular religion in Burkina Faso. According to (Kuba and Hein), 60.5% of the population are Muslims followed closely by Christians with 23.2% whereby 19% are Catholics and 4.2% are Protestants. A total of 15.3% of the population practices the African traditional Religion with a very small percentage being atheists. Taking on the Islam religion, food will often play an important role during the religious period of Ramadan where they do not eat or drink for certain hours of the day. Also, Muslim families will slaughter a ram for eating during the celebration of Tabaski (Kuba and Hein).
Just like most African countries, Burkina Faso allows for the use of traditional herbs for healing purposes. As a matter of fact, the practice is regulated in Burkina Faso and the herbs are sold as over the counter medicines. Common illnesses such as cold to complex ones such as STDs have been known to be treatable through herbs in the Burkinabe culture. For instance, Eteraf-Oskouei and Najafi explain that honey for the people of Burkina Faso acts both as food and a therapeutic medicine. Another is how the Muslims enlist it as a medicine value for the treatment of tuberculosis (Eteraf-Oskouei and Najafi).
History and Cultural Challenges in the United States
Given that there is close to no information about the Burkinabe culture in the United States, it can be derived that from the prevailing current U.S. situation on immigration as well as the relation between the two countries, it can be concluded as bitter sweet. U.S. Department of State explains that the relationship between the two countries has flourished since its independence which can only mean that immigration is open for both. However, there is the challenge of Islamic tension more so from the U.S. point of view. The latter is known to offer better socioeconomic status for immigrants whom the Burkinabe culture can benefit from. However, due to terrorist alert and tension on the immigration ban as issued by President Trump, it can be concluded that Muslims from Burkinabe culture might have a difficult time in the US but this is subject for future investigation.
In conclusion, the Burkinabe culture is one of the most inclusive cultural practices in the world. This is evident in its intermixing and togetherness within the landlocked country. It is important to emphasize that there is a lot to be borrowed from the Burkinabe culture and more so it’s political atmosphere. This is because both local and foreign political relations allows for the people to adopt a norm of including others and welcoming them irrespective of their cultural beliefs and practices. The Burkinabe Culture right from the geographic, religious, political to food is definitely a unique one.
Albala, Ken. Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. California: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print
Bertelsmann Stiftung, BTI 2016 — Burkina Faso Country Report. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2016. https://www.bti-project.org/fileadmin/files/BTI/Downloads/Reports/2016/pdf/BTI_2016_Burkina_Faso.pdf
Eteraf-Oskouei, Tahereh, and Moslem Najafi. “Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases: A Review.” Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 2013 16:6, 731-742 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/
Kuba, Richard and Pierre Claver Hien. “Burkina Faso.” Countries and Their Cultures, n.d. web 15 Aug 2017 http://www.everyculture.com/Bo-Co/Burkina-Faso.html
Manson, Katrina, James Knight and Gill Harvey. Burkina Faso. UK: Bradt Travel Guides, 2011. Print
U.S. Department of State. “U.S. Relations With Burkina Faso. U.S. State Government. 30 Jan 2017, Web 15 Aug 2017 https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2834.htm