The Bobo people have lived in western Burkina Faso and Mali for centuries. They are known for their masks, which are worn with elaborate outfits for celebrations. Primarily agricultural people, they also cultivate cotton that they use to trade with other groups.
The main goal of Bobo culture is to restore balanced nature which man inherently destroys. The order is mainly restored through sacrifices and ceremonies. The primary god of the Bobo is Wuro, who is responsible for ordering the land. The second god is Dwo, who is revealed during masking ceremonies. Dwo chooses to live in a mask until worn, when his spirit is caught up in the spirit of the wearer who is then able to communicate Dwo’s will to the other tribe members.
The population of the Bobo is slightly over 100,000 people. The Bobo have lived in the western region for centuries. Some believe they have been settled in the area since as far back as 800 A.D. These individuals have their own language that we know as simply the “Bobo” language, or “Mande”. Some of the other groups with whom the Bobo occasionally interact are the Senufo, Bamana, Lobi, and Bwa.
The Bobo people are an inherently decentralized group. The various villages that break down their group have their own method of organizing a “political system”. They base it on the relationship among individual patrilineages. The idea of placing political power in the hands of an individual is foreign to the Bobo people.
The Bobo, like most other cultures, have their own religious beliefs. The creator god of the Bobo is Wuro, who is never physically represented and cannot be described in words according to the Bobo. The god Wuro is the individual responsible for ordering all things in the world into pairs, which must always remain balanced. However, man, through everyday existence is usually responsible for upsetting this balance. The Bobo religious system involves restoring order through a series of offerings.
Burkinabes are a laid-back lot, have a genuine pride in their country and, like so many Africans, often find themselves torn between the modern world and the emotive tug of tradition. Although ethnicity, along with religion, is the bedrock of identity, youll see little if any antagonism between members of different ethnic groups.
Life for the Burkinabe is as tough as it gets. In 2005 the UN ranked Burkina Faso 175th out of 177 countries across a range of quality-of-life indicators. Almost 50% of the population survives on less than $1 per day. Adult literacy stands at 13% and one in every five Burkinabe is malnourished. Just 2% of the governments budget is spent on health. Over one-third of Burkinabes will not live to 40 years old. Thus it is that daily life for Burkinabes is all about survival.