March 06, 2007

A heart-felt apology... all the readers who are awaiting anxiously my feedback about Burkina, and the changes I find as I rediscover Ouagadougou, 16 years later.

I am swamped in work, so it will have to wait for details... but here goes....

My stay here in Ouaga is shortened because I have to head off to Mali. Juliana, FYI I am going to Mopti and since it's not too far from San - I will come for you ! The team includes 5 people - 2 are still too green to work on their own and I had the Lesotho experience, so our boss asked me to go and work alone in Mali for 3 weeks. I'm sad that I don't get to stay longer, but, heh, the job needs to get done.... I'll be back in Ouaga for the last few weeks, at least. And if I finish Mali early, I can come "home" earlier, so that's additionnal incentive...

Ouaga looks fantastic on the outside. When I arrived I could not beleive what I saw. My first thought was "Ma foi ils ont trop arrose - Ouaga a pousse en mon absence!" - the place did grow in the last 16 years ! My friends had prepared me but it was still a schock...

Ouaga 2000 - where I live 01
(click on pic for full set)

On Saturday I rented a taxi and tried to locate the places I used to know. I went to the Centre Culturel Francais where I had played the piano on stage (still occupied by the Fespaco til the next day), had coffee at La Bonbonniere with the Burkinabe Lebanese lady used to teach French at ISO and had me in her class in 8th grade.... I tried to locate the house in Koulouba but of course Koulouba is no more - and I tried to locate the house in Gounghin but ended up driving past Pissy (I swear, I couldn't find the turn!!!) Now that we are going to the office I know where my turn is so I'll have to go back there.

I also went to the Silmande where I used to hang out by the pool - it was also an excuse to drive across town and take stock of the changes. I had some long conversations with the locals, they all tell me the same thing, that the spending is outrageous and it will soon "peter" (explode). The security guard at the Silmande told me that he regularly sees the ministers' sons spend hundreds of thousands in one night on champain that they dont even drink. The use of HIV/AIDS funds for buildings, Ouaga 2000 itself, are outrageous and worrisome. I would not be surprised if something happened soon, although it seems the military have been paid since last fall and keep quiet now.

I had lunch with an old friend from Pakistan yesterday, it was great to see both of him again, particularly since I hadn't seen him in a year. An old friend of our family whom I had refound in Haiti showed up at the hotel last night and we had a drink together (water, as you can imagine, he is ever the simple one) and some long conversations. We reminisced about friends and family a lot. It was nice.

I am feeling very close to my father and mother these days. Many staff at the office are shaking my hand and telling me "you are So&So's daughter, how great it is to meet you." Secretaries remember the blond kid who came to work with her mum. One of the senior managers actually knew my Dad - he used to be with an other NGO before.

Other friends and colleagues of my parents have yet to make contact, so it's only a beginning.

It's a strange feeling, both heartwarming and exhilarating. The new girl said it looks like I have a household name here in Burkina. I'll admit it feels a bit that way, and I am realizing how loved my parents were and what impact they had here. It gives me pride to be their daughter.

The Beaver

Thanks to Ammo in DC, to Garris in Providence and to Baudouine in the UK for posting on my guestmap ! Baudouine, I'm really sorry, that's all that came out from the fashion show.... I was having camera problems that night....

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

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