Bobo-Dioulasso is the second biggest city in Burkina Faso after Ouagadougou, the nation's capital. The name means literally, "home of the Jula-speaking Bobo," which is the dominant ethnic group in the city. It is situated in the west of the country, at crossroads between Ivory Coast and Mali.
The city is significant economically with agricultural trade and textile industry; and it’s the center of culture and music in Burkina Faso. Jula, a trade language, is the lingua franca of Bobo and surrounding region of western Burkina Faso. The city is ethnically and linguistically diverse, due to its position as an ancient crossroads of several trans-Saharan trade routes.
Lying on the Houët River, Bobo was founded as Sya in the fifteenth century. The city was occupied by the French in 1897, after which it grew around the Abidjan–Ouagadougou railway. After democratization processes, Bobo Dioulasso gained a special status and financial independence. The city is divided into 3 sectors; Dafra, DÔ and Konsa.
The French colonial influences are still quite clearly visible, especially in the wide tree lined avenues and the new-Sudanese architecture – a style that was inspired by the West African Sudanese clay construction. A good example of this work is the old mosque that is open to visitors.
The city also features the fifteenth century Konsa house, and a sacred fish pond. There is also a museum, a zoo, and a pottery market. Another place that is worth visiting is the old quarter of town. Here there are pottery workshops, wood carvers, batik makers and makers of the Djembé and Balofoon instruments. The Djembé is an upright drum and the balofoon some sort of xylophone made out of bamboo and calabash. The city is famous for the quality instruments.
By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer
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