Focus on Family: Burkina Faso


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Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of approximately 20 million.  The official language of government and business is French.

In 1878, the OLA Sisters arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. They were the first group of Women Religious in Nigeria and in 1878 built the first girls school in the country, St Mary’s Private School.  A few years later, in 1885 they built the first hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital.

The Sister continued building schools, hospitals and clinics in the region, living and working among the local people and spreading out to the surrounding countries of Niger, Chad, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

Sr Salomé Soubeiga shares with us about family life in Burkina Faso.

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 Sr Salomé Soubeiga

I am Sr Salomé Soubeiga, a native of Diabo, in the Eastern region of Burkina Faso. I am a sister of the Missionary sisters of Our Lady of Apostles. I am currently on mission in Ghana, at Kenyasi in the Brong Ahafo region. I want to talk about family life in Burkina Faso, especially in my own culture, the Mossi culture.

How Family is Defined

A family is a group consisting of parents and their children living together as a unit. It can also be defined as two or more people related by blood or by alliance. So, in a Mossi family, each member has a fundamental and complimentary place. Each member plays his/her part in the common family. The father is in charge of providing the necessary needs for the family: food, clothing and shelter. The mother cooks for the family and cares for her children. As for the children, they draw water, feed animals and help their parents in their various activities.

In the family house, there is a spirit of solidarity, of sharing and mutual aid and respect. In the culture of the Mossi, the spirit of acceptance is a primordial value. Thus, a child belongs to the community. He receives the family love and the fraternal correction. So, the mission of the child's education falls to the entire community.

The Elders

In the family, while each member compliments the other, this does not mean that all are equal. The position of the elders is at the top of the pyramid. It is a position of honour. The elder is the pillar of the family; he can also be seen as the historian of the family, because he is the one who carries the history, passing down the customs as well as the moral proscriptions. In this, he is the architect of the family, the overseer of the family bonds. He is the ruler of the family.

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In summary, a family in Burkina Faso is all about solidarity, respect, peace and numerous other values. The elders, as the pillars of the family, have the critical role of transmitting values to the young in order to maintain the culture.

My hope is that the World Meeting of Families in Ireland will open discussion around the importance of values within families as I believe that this will help families to grow together.

Read more articles in the Focus on Family series here.