I’m still a Peace Corps volunteer! Feels nice to write that after the uncertainty that came with the recent (OK, ongoing) political unrest here in the Faso. If you’ve been paying attention to world news, you’ve probably seen the headlines: “Landlocked West Africa in Political Distress”, “Burkina Faso Peace Corps Orders a Standfast: All Volunteers To Remain in Site Until Further Notice”, “Founzan Volunteer Struggles to Make Sandwiches As Laughing Cow Cheese Supplies Slowly Deplete”. If these few headlines (some of which I actually just made up) are news to you, let me summarize the events of this past week with, as always, 100% accuracy and 0% bias.
The Burkinabe population has long expected and feared that Monsieur Son Excellence le President du Burkina of 27 years would refuse to step down next year during the presidential elections. I suppose after 27 years of not stepping down, a pattern was emerging. So when the ruling party announced a National Assembly vote on extending term limits in 2015, the population reacted accordingly by closing schools and boutiques around the country, pulling down Blaise statues, and setting fire to various buildings. When the National Assembly went to vote on removing presidential term limits, protesters in Ouaga chose first to set fire to the parliament building in which the vote was to take place, which affected the voting atmosphere rather negatively and prompted Blaise to go into hiding. Around noon that day, the military took up role as interim president and Blaise was thought to have fled to some desolate, God-forsaken place that would forget his sins, such as Cote d’Ivoire or Ohio. The next day however, Blaise showed back up and declared himself “totally still the Prez”, to which the population responded with a resounding “no ya ain’t”. “Right, sorry”, said Blaise, who then actually did retreat to Cote d’Ivoire in a Jaguar (the car) with sun glasses on, flipping the bird the whole way down. I should clarify which parts of this story really happened and which parts are my own embellishments. I’ll admit to a near 50/50 split, just choose your favorite parts to be real and forget the rest.
So Blaise is in Cote d’Ivoire and the military have taken up the president’s role. The last I heard is that elections will happen in 90 days and that the military has two weeks to give up the power to a civilian, but it all keeps changing. From here though, things look good: the Burkinabe are a very peaceful group of men and women who all have similar goals of democracy, unity, progress, and well brewed tea. I continue to feel very safe and welcome in my community and none of this conflict has anything to do with Peace Corps or the United States. If that’s not enough to keep you from worrying, here’s a short list of the real local issues I’m dealing with.
1. Derek sleeping like this
3. Vein-y squiggle in right foot turns out to be worm