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Special Feature

Feature: Ouagadougou: An Amazing City with Amazing People

There is no doubt that every country has its own unique culture, I mean a way of life that is so preserved and admirable by visitors and Burkina Faso is no exception. Though a poor country even by West African standards, landlocked, Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts, matched in number only by the military coups it has endured, especially during the 1980s.

It has significant reserves of gold, but cotton production is the economic mainstay for many Burkinabes. The industry is vulnerable to changes in world prices, according to statistics.

Formerly Upper Volta, Burkina Faso has spent many of its post-independence years under military rule. The UN rates Burkina Faso as the world’s third poorest country.Its current President, himself a former coup leader Blaise Compaore won a new five-year term in 2005 after 18 years at the helm.

Internationally, Burkina Faso has been linked to conflicts here and in other parts of the region. Many citizens who have traditionally worked in Ivory Coast have fled instability there.

However, in spite of all its troubles, the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou is waking up to the reality of sky rise buildings especially in what is now known as the new Ouagadougou. But of interest and something admired by most visitors is the means of transport in this big city; bicycles and motorbikes.

Bicycles and motorbikes seem to outnumber the number of vehicles that ply the streets of Ouagadougou. What makes this more fascinating is that unlike other countries in the sub-region where bicycles are used for exercise and mainly ridden by young people, here there is no age barrier. Even women and men as old as 60-years ride bicycles to the markets and farms and even to work.

Women welled dressed in suites are easily seem ridding their motorbikes to work. But the amazing aspect of it all is to see a woman with a baby tied on her back with additional two kids sitting at the back of the bicycle ridding home or taking them to school. The same can be said of those owning motorbikes.

At a traffic light, you would see a long convoy of motorbike and bicycle riders as compare to just one motor vehicle.

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Interestingly, girls are also engage in commercial motorbike riding. “These people are very amazing,” a Nigerian colleague from the Nigerian Television Authority or NTA said as we watch out for the women with kids at the back of the bicycle riding either to school or home.

We actually planned to have exclusive interviews with some of these women, but hey language was the greatest obstacles. However, we decided that these images could tell the story better.

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