Burkinabes welcome Francophonie summit delegates

Ouagadougou- Burkina Faso (PANA) -- The warmth that greets visitors upon arrival at Ouagadougou airport is nothing compared to what attendants express to delegates arriving here for the tenth summit of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF) scheduled 26-27 November.
The Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, has been bedecked for several days now with all its finest decorations, as its inhabitants are usually fond of greeting visitors with warmth, showing treasures of kindness and openness to make their guests feel at home.
Small overtones or words of irritation could be observed here and there as pressure weighs, while a small group is to meet the demands of often impatient and demanding persons from about sixty different OIF countries, as well as observers plus the horde of journalists and intellectuals who never miss such events.
But visibly, this does not in any way affect Burkinabes as they have gained mastery in the art of receiving the world for they regularly host events such as the Ouagadougou Panafrican Cinema and Television Festival (FESPACO).
Others are the International Arts and Crafts Fair (SIAO) and the International Book Fair (FILO), all of which have given residents of Ouagadougou undeniable keenness in everything.
Day or night, as soon as guests arrive at the Ouagadougou international airport, they are directly ushered in a small VIP lounge where they undergo normal formalities with the border police while being treated to drinks assorted pastries.
A carousel at the airport yet still in human dimension, delivers guests' luggage in no time which good-natured customs officers check quickly before hotel shuttle buses carry guests and luggage with a willingness that surpasses commercial gestures.
"In a crisis-weary Africa, with all sorts of conflicts Burkina Faso deserves commendation as it has preserved the sense of welcome, hospitality and friendship.
It manages to succeed where others fails, despite limited means, owing to its sense of organisations, the courage of its people, the spirit of initiative and political will of its leaders".
The quotation is from an editorial of the Monday edition of official daily, Sidwaya, titled, Efficiency in discretion.
The editorialist attributes this capacity of the Burkinabe government to "easily rally the people to certain causes" to a "tradition of tolerance (as well as) policy of openness, good neighbourliness and peace".
Between the airport and the hotel, the visitor reviews large avenues and streets in the town -- all of them tarred -- which have ceased to release those dense clouds of ochre dust that, only ten years ago, characterised Ouagadougou.
Despite a myriad of two-wheelers, among them bicycles, moped and other scooters, ridden by decked-out males as well as females, the traffic is surprisingly smooth for a city of some 1.
5 million inhabitants.
The other key feature of Ouaga is its cleanliness, which is not circumstantial as in other West African capitals.
The cleanliness is owed to a man: Simon as the city's population call their mayor.
Never "Mister Simon" or with his family name Compaore (no relations with President Blaise Compaore.
Only Simon.
Despite the apparent familiarity, the mayor is repute for a proverbial firmness in fighting lack of discipline, confusion and other woes plaguing big African cities, most components of which are going rural due to a massive rural exodus.
But the mayor of Ouagadougou is not the only one to show firmness.
The state has also kept things in its grips, having completely razed one of the oldest cities in the town, which was so far made of slums, with plans to construct new buildings in this commercial planning zone, to reflect the demands of modernity.
The die is cast despite dwellers' protests and demonstrations, burning tyres, mounting barricades, raiding missiles, with a crackdown of security forces with teargases: the former district is now a vast wasteland, with only stones littering the ground.
The barren land that was ten years ago slated to host the Ouaga 2000 project, now hosts the new posh residential district or, rather the new city on the outskirts of Ouagadougou.
The new city is bustling with huge business centres, luxury hotels and posh villas destined to accommodate heads of states and their delegations.

23 november 2004 17:53:00




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