History / Economy / Politics
History of Burkina Faso
The 19th century marked the beginning of European imperialism in Africa, and Burkina, like other African territories, aroused the interest of Europeans. The conquest was preceded by a phase of exploration led from 1853 to 1894 by three powers including Germany, France and England. Heinrich Barth, a German explorer, reached Dori in July 1853 and was thus the first European to set foot on Burkinabe soil. He quickly encountered resistance from the Mossi people and could only indirectly gather some information. A few years later, his German compatriot Dr Krause, who left Accra in Ghana in 1886 as part of a scientific mission, arrived in Ouagadougou in 1886. He was the first European to enter the capital of the Mogho, but his stay in the capital was brief and did not exceed three weeks.
The slave trade
The slave trade was a scourge that ravaged Africa for three centuries until it was banned in 1848. It led to depopulation, a sharp demographic decline and, above all, to intense hatred between the various ethnic groups, which resulted in numerous tribal wars. Indeed, the Europeans, reluctant to venture into the land, preferred to pay the Africans to obtain slaves. Rapidly, major manhunts developed between the different ethnic groups and led to the migration of the weakest. Experts are divided in their opinion, estimating the number of slaves captured to be between 20 and 100 million across the continent. The slave trade that took place in the country and in totally inhuman conditions has left its mark to this day.
Some important dates in the history of Burkina Faso
11th century: Creation of the first Mossi kingdoms of Tenkodogo and Ouagadougou – Oubritenga as well as Gourmantché.
15th century: Arrival of Dioula merchants who founded Bobo-Dioulasso.
1810: Islamisation of the East of the country by the Fulani.
1888: First French incursions and beginning of colonization. A first protectorate is established in 1896 in Ouagadougou.
1914/1918 – First World War: the Mossi constitute an important part of the Senegalese riflemen sent to the front in Europe. Resistance movements against conscription.
1919: Creation of Upper Volta with Edouard Hesling as its first governor.
1932: Partition of Upper Volta and attachment to several other territories held by France, which today correspond to Mali (formerly French Sudan), Niger and the Ivory Coast (formerly Gold Coast).
1947: Re-establishment of Upper Volta within its 1919 borders, obtained in the name of the services rendered by the Burkinabé during the Second World War.
1958: 11 December: Upper Volta becomes an autonomous republic within the French community. Maurice Yaméogo becomes the first president of the 1st Voltaic Republic.
1959: 11 December: Maurice Yaméogo is elected president.
1960: 5 August: Upper Volta becomes independent under a one-party regime established by Maurice Yaméogo.
1966: 3 January: Maurice Yaméogo resigns. Lieutenant Colonel Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana takes power and bans political parties.
1970: Adoption of a new constitution and first democratic legislative elections in West Africa where all parties are represented.
1971: Establishment of the Second Republic.
1974: Installation of a military government for national renewal.
1976: Creation of a government of National Union by the Head of State Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana.
1978: Proclamation of a Third Republic.
The wage freeze and the increase in the cost of living provoke a popular uprising. Colonel Saye Zerbo takes power following a military coup.
1982: 7 November: Officers who formed the People’s Salvation Council (including Captain Thomas Sankara) take power following strikes. The doctor-commander Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo becomes head of state.
1983: 4 August: Captain Thomas Sankara takes power following a coup d’état and founds the National Revolutionary Council (CNR).
1984: 3 August: The country is renamed Burkina Faso (“Country of Honest Men”).
1987: 15 October: Seizure of power by the regime’s number two, Blaise Compaoré. Thomas Sankara is assassinated in the putsch. Blaise Compaoré launches a policy of rectification and aligns the country’s economic policy with Western demands.
Burkina Faso is the fourth-largest economy in the WAEMU zone. Burkina Faso’s economy is based on mining, tourism, agriculture, especially cotton production, which are the main sources of income in rural areas. Burkina Faso is the fourth largest cotton producer on the continent and one of Africa’s leading exporters. The economy of Burkina Faso is growing rapidly due to the good orientation of the mining activity. Several large investments in infrastructure projects have been undertaken, enabling economic growth. These include energy, hydro-agricultural development, road infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture. Recent years have seen an acceleration of economic growth thanks to public investment, new industrial mines and increased cereal production. In Zagtouli, Burkina Faso, which is landlocked and highly dependent on energy, inaugurated the largest solar power plant in West Africa, comprising 130,000 solar panels on a surface of 55 ha with a capacity of 33 MW. It should eventually produce 55,000 MWh per year, i.e. 5% of the national production, at a much lower cost than imported fossil energy. Burkina Faso plans to build four other power plants and is aiming for 30% of its energy mix to come from photovoltaic energy.
Burkina Faso is a multi-party presidential republic where the president is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is in the hands of the government, while legislative power is shared between the government and the parliament. The judiciary is independent of the first two. The President of the Republic is elected for five years by popular vote. He appoints the Prime Minister with the consent of Parliament. The National Assembly has 111 members elected for five years. According to the Constitution (Article 43), “in the event of a vacancy in the office of President of the Republic, the matter is referred to the Constitutional Council by the government and the functions of the President of Faso are then exercised by the President of the National Assembly”. This interim period lasts until new elections are held in at least thirty days and at most sixty days. The Republic of Burkina Faso is secular, democratic and social. It ensures the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race, sex or religion. The President of the Republic defines the nation’s policy, which is then implemented by the members of the government.