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Bobo-Dioulasso is located in Burkina Faso
Location within Burkina Faso, French West Africa
Coordinates: 11°11′N 4°17′W / 11.183°N 4.283°W / 11.183; -4.283
Country  Burkina Faso
Region Hauts-Bassins Region
Province Houet Province
Elevation 445 m (1,460 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 435,543
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)

Coordinates: 11°11′N 4°17′W / 11.183°N 4.283°W / 11.183; -4.283 Bobo-Dioulasso is a city with a population of about 435,543 (as of 2006)[1], the second biggest city in Burkina Faso, Africa, after Ouagadougou, the nation's capital. The name means literally, "home of the Jula who speak Bobo," and is possibly a creation of the French who misunderstood the identity complexities of the location. The local Bobo-speaking population of the city refers to it as Sia. The city is situated in the southwest of the country, in the Houet Province, some 350 km (220 mi) from Ouagadougou. It is significant both economically (agricultural trade, textile industry) and culturally (Bobo is the center of culture and music of Burkina Faso).



At the end of the nineteenth century Sia consisted of two large villages, Tunuma and Sia proper, located at a few hundred meters from each other on a narrow spit of land bounded by 8 to 10 feet deep ravines on either side, carved by the We (Houët) river to the east and by its tributary Sanyo to the west, and three small satellite villages lying beyond this natural border. There were a number of other independent villages in the surroundings (Bindogoso, Dogona, Kwirima, Kpa) which all now lie within the municipal boudaries and are incorporated into the city. The two main villages were occupied by the French on September 25, 1897 after a brief but bloody confrontation.[2] Soon afterwards the French created an administrative settlement near them, on the east side of the We river, which became the headquarters of a district ("cercle") carrying the same name, Bobo-Dioulasso.

During the 1915-16 anti-colonial war the population in the north and east of the district of Bobo-Dioulasso took the arms against the French colonial government while the city itself became a center for the organization of the suppression.[3] A military base established in the southern sector of the city added to its growing importance.

In 1927 the old village of Tunuma and the other settlements were razed and their population relocated either to neighboring villages or to a previously farmed empty zone 3 kilometers away that was made available to build a new neighborhood (the current neighborhood of Tounouma).[4] Sia proper, which survives today as the Dioulasoba neighborhood, was partly spared this total destruction but nonetheless modified by a large artery pierced through it in 1939 and the widening of the streets in successive urban renewal projects. Between 1926 and 1929 a grid pattern of new avenues and streets intersected by diagonals radiating from a center, and square urban lots between them, established the framework for the modern city center. The Abidjan railway reached Bobo-Diouolasso in 1934, but the growth of the city as a colonial industrial center halted because of the world economic crisis and the suppression of the colony of Upper Volta in 1933.

Town hall

The city started expanding again after World War II and especially the reconstitution of the colony of Upper Volta in 1947, despite the fact that Ouagadougou had been selected as its capital. Besides being an early industrial center in the country, Bobo-Dioulasso is also the hub of a rich agricultural zone producing food grains, fruits and seedlings (mangos, citrus), export crops (cotton, cashews, and the gathered oil seed karite/shea). Due to its prominent economic position, following independence in 1960 the city was called "the economic capital of the country" (as opposed to the administrative capital, Ouagadougou). Bobo-Dioulasso's economic advantage vis-à-vis the capital declined, however, because of decades of government policy favoring Ouagadougou. Little new industry arrived in the city during the 1980s and 1990s and some of the preexisting enterprises either closed down or relocated to the capital. Economic life was primarily reduced to commerce grounded in the agriculture of the region and services.

Bobo Dioulasso Market

Since 2000 the city of Bobo-Dioulasso engaged in a new growth spurt, gaining once again in population and economic vitality, benefitting from the internal crisis in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, which propelled many of its residents hailing from Burkina Faso to a return migration. The central government is also investing in it (for example the new West African Centre for Economic and Social Studies, a college which is the kernel of what will be the second university of the country).


Bobo Dioulasso Grand Mosque

The city features the Bobo-Dioulasso Old Mosque (built in 1880 according to some, 1893 according to others), the Konsa house which is the ritual cente of a senior house of the Zara (or Bobo-Jula) group, and a sacred natural pond called Dafra at its southern fringes, which is the source of the We river. The pond is a site of pilgrimage and the giant catfish living in it are given offerings. Bobo-Dioulasso is also a city where one can see several nicely preserved examples of the colonial era architecture called "neo-Sudanic" (examples: the museum building, the train station). In addition to the regional museum there is also a zoo, and a pottery market.


Bobo locals

The original population of Bobo-Dioulasso consisted of a majority of farmers speaking the Bobo language and a set of groups associated with them, specializing in trade and warfare, who also speak Bobo, but consider themselves of a distinct historical origin and go by the name Zara.[5]

Today Bobo-Dioulasso is ethnically and linguistically very diverse, due to its position as an old trade town, and especially to its growth during the twentieth century as a colonial administrative and military center. Jula is the lingua franca of Bobo and surrounding region of western Burkina Faso, but because of this ethnic diversity two different dialects of Jula live side by side in the city and region. The common (and now dominant) Jula spoken in the streets of Bobo-Dioulasso is a close variation of Bamana, the majority language of neighboring Mali. It was brought to the area during the French colonial administration (1898-1960) by the government interpreters and by the soldiers of the colonial army where this language prevailed. Most people speak this Jula as a second language. The people who are of Jula ethnic origin, whether of trader, Muslim-clerical, or warrior origin, speak a different dialect of Jula that is similar to the variety spoken in Côte d'Ivoire. In the city this dialect is called Kon-Jula and survives as an ethnic marker of a particular community.[6]

Notable people


External links


  1. ^ National 2006 census preliminary results
  2. ^ Mahir Saul and Patrick Royer, West African Challenge to Empire, Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War, pp. 71-72.
  3. ^ Mahir Saul and Patrick Royer, West African Challenge to Empire: Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War, 2001.
  4. ^ Laurent Fourchard, "Propriétaires et commerçants africains à Ouagadougou et à Bobo-Dioulasso, fin 19ème siècle-1960," Journal of African History 44(2003), p. 441.
  5. ^ Katja Werthmann "Islam on Both Sides: Religion and Locality in Western Burkina Faso," in Dimensions of Locality, ed. by G. Stauth and S. Schielke, 2008, pp. 125-147.
  6. ^ Eren Giray, Nsiirin! Nsiirin! Jula Folktales from West Africa (Michigan University Press, 1996.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : West Africa : Burkina Faso : Bobo-Dioulasso


Somebody once said that “Bobos,” or those Burkinabe who have spent a significant amount of time in Bobo, and have adopted some of the “Bobolaise” mannerisms – are the most hospitable Burkinabe, and perhaps one of the most hospitable groups of people, in the world. Strangers are welcome in general, and just about anyone from strangers to neighbors are always invited to drink tea or some bissap and eat food. In every neighborhood, you will see mini block parties of tea drinkers, old ladies out walking, schoolkids in clumps – to a degree not to be found in many other villes and villages. Bobo is social. That said – some PCVs say that Bobo also holds the highest rate of Faux Types, merchant hawkers, and the like, on the hunt to chat it up, or sell something to a “Tubabu” (that’s you, silly). French and Jula are spoken in Bobo, along with Bobo (a dialect) and many other regional dialects. Bobo is often called the commercial capital of Burkina. You can get almost anything that you can get in Ouaga (OK – no Jimmy’s Bar, or Ice Cream like there is at Chez Simone). In general prices for things are a little cheaper than Ouaga. It is also much more temperate in Bobo (not too hot not too cold) due to lots of greens, trees, etc… in and around the area.

Get in

Assuming that you need to get to Bobo from Ouaga here are some big names:

  • STMB tel 50 31 44 72
  • TCV tel 50 30 13 03
  • SOGEBAF tel 50 34 42 55
  • TSR tel 50 34 25 24
  • Taxis During day hours should charge 200cfa – no more. 300 cfa if you are going really really far. At night 300cfa is what you should pay to go anywhere. Wee wee morning hours – prices mount but should NEVER surpass 500cfa. If you have a heavy travelers bags or a bike expect to pay another 100 or 200cfa. Try never to take a taxi out of a gare – better to walk a block and get someone who won’t try to milk you for a tourist.


Cine Sanyon – For movies – off of Ave. de la Republique

  • Centre Culturel Francaise – You can always swing by to see what is going on in terms of exhibits/ art / music – or just sit in their garden to study or read.
  • Place de la Nation Musee Provincial – On Place de la Nation like the name says
  • Grande Mosque – Right off of Place de la Revolution – there are probably many Faux Typey Types who will offer to take you there if you express interest – so finding it shouldn’t be hard.
  • Grande Marche. It has just about everything you need in it to live in Burkina from cloth to plastic buckets, jewelry and nailpolish remover, to sewing shears and gas lamps and a nice varied selection of veggies and fruits. It’s also fun to hang out in the meat stalls if you like to see your cut of fresh meat being chopped right there, and be splattered with bits of gristle and bones (not recommended for the vegetarians).
  • If the Grand Marche is too intimidating or you don’t have the time to hassle with it, nearly every neighborhood has a pretty comprehensive marche somewhere – just ask. Also worth noting is the Marche de Fruits – that is on the road that leads to the Airport towards Banfora and Oradara. (You’ll see a sign pointing off to the right that says “MARCHE DE FRUITS” ). Piles of mangoes, oranges, bananas, ignames, and patates live there in season.
  • Also to note is the Marina Market – a very Western style supermarket with lots of Arabic imports, cheeses, chocolate, wine, alcohol, doodads and tchatchkis for your hut in village, etc…. Haggling for prices is not allowed. Cousin to Marina Market is Cobodim, which has much the same selection in terms of goods. It is located catty corner to the SouthWest corner of the Marche. Haggling for prices is not allowed here either.
  • Antoine. His shop is in Accartville North. To get there, get a taxi to go just past the bar “Jardin D’Eden” in that neighborhood and drop you off at the road just after Jardin D’Eden you will see a mini bar called CP1. Walk approximately 2 blocks in on that CP1 road, and on the left hand side – you will see a mango tree surrounded by lots and lots of mud bricks. The door to the tailor is right by that tree – ask someone sitting in the street if you can’t find him.



Most larger buvettes have eats in the afternoons and evenings, but here are a few notables from the recommendations and favorites of Bobo Stage Goers:

  • La Pacha – Personal favorite – has pizzas, Middle Eastern food/ French cuisine, and is on the pricey side. It faces the Gare by the Marche de Fruits.
  • Sidwaya – Hard to miss, as it is right next to the giant train station “Le Gare” not to be confused with various other bus stations. Sprawling tables set in a garden space – prices are not outrageous and it is mostly general Burkinabe restaurant fare (some salads, brochettes, sandwiches, soups, rice plates, french fries, plantains, and other such side dishes, and a selection of beers, soft drinks, yogurt available too).
  • Campagnard – Noted for it’s brochettes, also has the best salad in Burkina Faso--piles of grated beets and carrots, avocados, hard-boiled eggs and delicious dressing. Much the same fare as Sidwaya, similar prices, but brochettes are raved about by the meat eaters.
  • Oscars – The ice cream joint. Also serves cold drinks, beers, and has a small selection of Western foods.

Street food and snacks

You can get rice and sauce, achekeh, fish, to and sauce, cokes, fantas, and snacks on almost every corner, but here are some things to watch out for in season:

  • June/July “chenilles” CATERPILLARS Baby! - They come fried – and are eaten crunchy like french-fries – or can be put in a baguette for a caterpillar sandwich
  • November/January “wusu” or white sweet potatoes sold boiled, with salt and piment.
  • April/November MANGOS
  • Imports from Cote D Ivoire (Ivory Coast): “aloco” or fried plantains, coconuts, all bananas.


There are many. Here are the favorites from the Bobo Stagiares (these are all bars you can dance in):

  • Entente Plus – 1000cfa cover per person for drinking and dancing inside (drinks not included in that). Music good on a regular basis.
  • Macoumba – Cover charge 1000cfa per person – about same as above.
  • Fashion Café – Cover charge seems to be high around 1000 or 1500cfa depending on music or event. (don’t know if supermodels or fashion gurus are involved in any way ever)
  • Jardin D’Eden – Cover charge depends – 300cfa is usually asked… can be avoided if you are sneaky or stubborn. Music deafeningly loud, but not bad – just don’t expect to talk.
  • Oxygene – Expect cover charge of 1000cfa as usual.
  • Casa Africa – Great because it is literally one block from the Bobo Peace Corps Bureau if you like to have a 3 minute commute to work (if you came to Bobo to work that is). PVCs have a 2000cfa a night discount (other prices can be from 3000 to 6000cfa depending on the room). They have passable meals, coffee, bread. The rooms are OK – expect to smell a moldy smell partout. Most all bathrooms and showers are shared.
  • Hotel Auberge Secteur 1 ( Mission Apostolique ) - Also on the cheaper side – 3500cfa for one person ( you get a room usually with two beds ) sharing bathroom and showers etc…Rooms for 10.000cfa available with air conditioning.
  • Relax – On the more expensive side beginning around 15.000 – 30.000cfa. It has a pool.
  • Hotel 421 – On the more expensive side 12.000 – 17.000cfa, has private BRs. Restaurant downstairs, and a nightclub? Dancehall? In the basement.
  • Smmekita ( the old Ranhotel )
  • Hotel Splendide – ( By Ouezzinville) The selling point here is the swimming pool – ah, Heaven! Even if you aren’t staying here – shell out the 1000cfa price to go for a dip in the pool. It is worth it.
  • Post Office Hard to miss – right off of the Place de la Nation. Operating hours are from 7:30 AM – 11:30AM and 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. The stamp-selling ladies always seem to be snippy – and matronly. If you need a package wrapped, or need envelopes, or other stationary supplies – there is a mini librairie with nice relaxed people in it, that the snippy post ladies can point you to (if you are facing the post office it is to your dead right – and across a street). Attached to the Post office is a cyber cafe (see below).
  • InternetThere are many many – but here are two favorites…. La Grande Poste (600cfa per hour) and CisPlus (about the same price and facing the Ave. de la Revolution just in front of the Grande Poste).
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