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Burkina Faso

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Welcome to the BurkinaFasoGenWeb Project

The BurkinaFasoGenWeb Project is an on-line data repository for queries, family histories, and source records as well as being resource center to identify other on-line databases and resources to assist researchers in Burkina Faso.

8/4/2007 - new website


Burkina Faso History

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Like all of the west of Africa, Burkina Faso was populated early, notably by hunter-gatherers in the northwestern part of the country (12,000 to 5000 BC), and whose tools (scrapers, chisels and arrowheads) were discovered in 1973. Settlements appeared between 3600 and 2600 BC with farmers, the traces of whose structures leave the impression of relatively permanent buildings. The use of iron, ceramics and polished stone developed between 1500 and 1000 BC, as well as a preoccupation with spiritual matters, as shown by the burial remains which have been discovered.

Relics of the Dogon are found in the centre-north, north and north west region. They left the area between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries BC to settle in the cliffs of Bandiagara. Elsewhere, the remains of high walls are localised in the southwest of Burkina Faso (as well as in the Côte d'Ivoire), but the people who built them have not yet been definitely identified.

Burkina Faso was a very important economic region for the Songhai Empire during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

From colony to independence

After a decade of intense rivalry and competition between the British and the French, waged through treaty making expeditions under military or civilian explorers, in 1896, the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate. The western region, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, and the eastern region came under French occupation in 1897 following different campaigns. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso today was nominally conquered, although control of many parts remained precarious. The French and British convention of June 14, 1898 ended the scramble between the two colonial powers and basically traced the borders between them. On the French side a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years. In the 1904 large-scale reorganization of the French West African colonial empire, the now largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper-Senegal-Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger) colony of French West Africa (AOF). The colony had its capital in Bamako.

Draftees from the territory participated in the European fronts of First World War in the battalions of the Senegalese Infantry (Tirailleurs sénégalais). Between 1915 and 1916 the districts in the western part of what is now Burkina Faso and the bordering eastern fringe of Mali became the stage of one of the most important armed oppositions to colonial government (known as the Volta-Bani War). The French government finally suppressed the movement, but only after suffering defeats and being forced to gather the largest expeditionary force of its colonial history up to then. Armed opposition also wrecked the Sahelian north, as the Tuareg and allied groups of the Dori region ended their truce with the government. Once the First World War was over, on March 1, 1919, fear of recurrence of armed uprising and economic considerations led the colonial government to separate the present territory of Burkina Faso from Haut Sénégal et Niger so as to intensify its administration. The new colony was named Haute Volta and François Charles Alexis Édouard Hesling became its first governor. Hesling initiated an ambitious road making program and promoted cotton growing for export. The cotton policy, based on coercion, failed and revenue stagnated. The colony was dismantled on September 5, 1932, and its territory divided between Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger, the largest share with most of the population and the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso passing to Côte d'Ivoire.

The decision was reversed during the intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of the Second World War and on September 4, 1947 Upper Volta was recreated in its 1932 boundaries. On December 11, 1958, it achieved self-government, and became a republic and member of the Franco-African Community (La Communauté Franco-Africaine). Full independence was attained in 1960. 

Sources:  Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook


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