Ouagadougou is the capital and largest city of Burkina Faso. It is also the country’s cultural, economic and administrative centre. The second most important city is of Bobo-Dioulasso.
National Memorial to the Martyrs
The city’s name is derived from the colloquial word “Wodgo” meaning “where people obtain honor and respect”. Historical writings suggest that Ouagadougou owes its name to an ancient city called “Wago” which had existed in that place.
Ouagadougou is part of the Kadiogo province located at the Centre Region, at around 200 km from Niger and Mali, and 300 km from the country’s southern region. It is linked to the other regions by several roads, and is surrounded by forests and green squares constituting an open museum of biodiversity featuring tress, plants, birds and other animals. A zoo park was set on a large area, which offers a wide collection of birds, rodents and rare flora.
Origin and evolution:
The city was founded around the 12th century and became the capital of the Mossi emperors (Moro-Naba) in the 15th century. Islam was introduced to the region in the 9th century AH, when trade routes extended from Timbuktu in Mali to the north of the tropical forests, during the gold trade boom of the 17th and 19th centuries. The French occupied the Ouagadougou in 1896, giving way to a slight expansion which continued until 1954, when it witnessed a major evolution after the rail lines from Côte d’Ivoire reached the city, thus linking to Bobo-Dioulasso.
The Maison du People (People’s House)
The city of Ouagadougou is historically associated with the Mossi people who settled the Yatenga region, southwest of the city, established a well-organized kingdom in the 14th century and made Ouagadougou their capital in 15th century. Ouagadougou had a large military force during the 15th and 16th centuries, which repelled invaders from the Songhai Empire (today’s Mali). The city enjoyed an atmosphere of stability until the 18th century when it started collapsing. The Europeans knew nothing about this area until the 19th century, when France occupied Ouagadougou in January 1896 and placed the territory under the French Protectorate, turning the city into the capital of Upper Volta colony (today’s Burkina Faso) in 1919. In 1932, the new colony was split up into three districts (Côte D’Ivoire, Mali and Niger) before ultimately being reconstituted in 1947 as a separate territory. Despite the relative late emergence of its independence movement compared with similar movements in neighboring French colonies, this region acquired autonomy as a self-governing colony within the French Community (in French Communauté française) in 1958. On 5 August 1960, Upper Volta became an independent republic and continued as such until 1984, when the country’s name was changed from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso.
Ouagadougou is not a typical tourist attraction. However, it offers many tourist sites and diverse activities that attract a large public, in addition to sports activities and conferences. It also hosts the Pan-African Film and Television Festival.
Ouagadougou is known for hosting many mosques, including grand ones. Among the city’s architectural landmarks are the Moro-Naba Palace (Moro-Naba is traditional leader of the Mossi people), the African Art Museum, and a university founded in 1974.
Ouagadougou comprises a modern central area which constitutes an important platform for the export of cattle, cotton, corn, peanuts, sesame, gold and phosphate, and accordingly stands out as one of Africa’s largest markets.
Ouagadougou Grand Mosque