Most of Burkina Faso is a low plateau ranging from savannah in the south to the semi-desert of the Sahel in the north. It is best known for two things: for the biennial FESPACO film festival – this poor country has produced some of Africa’s finest films and the festival is a showcase for African cinema; and for the short presidency of the charismatic Thomas Sankara, who inspired progressive people all over Africa and made profound changes to his country before being overthrown by conservative forces with foreign support.
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Burkina Faso is a friendly country and those who visit it often come back for more. There are some good museums in the capital, Ouagadougou, and several game reserves. Bobo Dioulasso, the second city, is a fascinating place with examples of Sahelian mud architecture and with a star-shaped street plan laid out by the French colonial government. The scenery is not remarkable, but there are some amazing rock formations in the southwest. There are some excellent markets, notably Goron-Goron in the north, and a big international arts-and-crafts festival each year in October and November. [/wptab]
Ethical Travel Issues and advice
Ethical Photography: Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.
Taking photos of friendly local people is a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.