‘The journey through West Africa’ (previously publisheed)
SIAO….Salon Internationale Artisant du Ouagadougou.
In 1998, my two friends lured me with the idea of travelling to SIAO. The biggest Art and Craft exihibition in West Africa. A bi-annual event done every leap year in Ouagadouguo. Capital city of Burkina Faso. A Francophone W\African State. Because of my adventurer nature, i agreed. We put all arrangement in motion. Obtained all the neccessary documents and we embarked on the journey that would take about 30 hours. The longest I had ever taken.
It was October, 1998. I was kind of naive but by my second trip in 2000. I had gotten used to such long distant travelling. We set out on the journey leaving Lagos to Cotonou through Seme boarder. The boarder between Nigeria and Republic of Benin. Left Lagos in the morning but had to while away the whole day in Cotonou because direct vehicle to Burkina Faso leaves by midnight.
The journey is from the south to the north of Benin passing through towns like Parakou before crossing into Burkina Faso. Close to a thousand kilometer if not more. Comparable to like going from Lagos to Sokoto in Nigeria. Two unforgetable incidents are one, a particular town where women walk and mingle with their male conterpart bare chested. All age included. It was their way of life and culture. It was a striking scenery to some of us seeing it for the first time, but by my second trip, it wasn’t a suprise again. The town was actually a stopover. So there was no way you would not notice it. Quite spectacular. The only thing similar in my memory though didn’t witness it but from news was a remote hill top settlement in nothern part of Nigeria called Koma. The inhabitant actually walked around naked, only cover their private part just like garden of eden before sin. They had taste of civilization after they were discovered by Christian missionaries. Setting up schools for them and making material provision available to them. Things have changed since then.
The second incident was this portion of the road about 100 km leading to Burkina Faso. Rocky, hilly, stoney and bumpey. Untarred.
It took almost 4 hours to pass through to the other side with dust completely all over you. That was 14 years ago. Am told the road had been tarred now.
Burkina Faso is typical african country where leadership suppresses the masses. A landlocked state close to the desert region of West Africa. Despite all the challenges of the road, Ouagadougou was sparkling of French hospitality. SIAO is a leading art and craft exhibition in Africa. It attracts participants from all over Africa and visitors from all over the world. A place to be. A bi- annual event like I have said, this is another year of SIAO come October. All road lead to Ouagadougou.
I really long to get back on the road, and if i could make the trip this year. It would be remarkable because as a blogger, I’ll be able to capture every stage of the trip and properly document it. That would be a great experience.