Burkina Faso Early History

Burkina Faso Early History


The colonial rule of France led to degrading exploitation, but also created the structural conditions for today’s Burkina Faso as a modern state. In the past 55 years, military governments, democratic constitutions and a revolutionary council under Thomas Sankara have replaced each other. According to extrareference, a popular uprising was able to overcome the corrupt semi-authoritarian “System Compaoré” in 2014.

The prehistoric time

In his account of the prehistory of Burkina Faso, the Burkinabe archaeologist Prof. Kiéthéga ascribes an age of 400,000 years to the first carved stone finds at the Mare d´Oursi.

Further archaeological finds point to a settlement history that began at least 14,000 years ago. The first residents settled down around 5,000 years ago. Settlement mounds, cemeteries with clay coffins, shards, rock paintings, remains of blast furnaces or defenses offer objects of archaeological studies all over the country.

Due to strong migration, archaeological finds such as rock settlements in Sidou or Yobiri, rock engravings in Pobé-Mengao, Aribinda or Markoye, excavations such as those by archaeologists from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt in Oursi or the ruins of Loropeni [ video ] in the southwest (since 2009 first object in the country on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites) cannot be assigned exactly ethnically.

The pre-colonial period

Pre-colonial history is divided into two epochs. The first is the epoch of the oldest settlers (Dogon, Nioniosi, Gourounsi, Bissa, Bobo, Sénoufo) who were already in the area today at the end of the first millennium after Christ. The second epoch of pre-colonial history begins in the 12th century. It was a time of great migration. The reasons for migration were varied: escape from conquerors and slave hunters, disease, droughts, hunger, curses, search for fertile land…. The result of these movements was the emergence and development of strictly organized socio-political systems. These are the systems of the Gurmantche, Fulbe, Marka, Dafing, Yarcés, Bobo-Diula, Diula and Mossi. The latter ethnic group (the Mossi), whose ancestors probably immigrated from the Chad region to the north of what is now Ghana,Mossi empires. The founding myth of the Mossi, the story of the Amazon Princess Yennenga, gives the advance of the Mossi from Gambaga to the north a fateful meaning. The myth emphasizes the merging of indigenous tribes with the newcomers around the 15th century, creating today’s Burkinabe population. Units of Mossi riders conquered about half of today’s Burkina Faso and established feudal rule. While they the Dogon (Kibsi) up to Bandiagara pushed back, they agreed with other autochthonous populations, especially the Nioniose, on a division of power into secular and sacred power. The descendants of the Mossi ruler, who called themselves Nakomse and mostly belonged to the Ouédraogo family, received political power (“naam” or French “chefferie”). The earth priests of the Nioniosis, the family Sawadogo (= “cloud”), received power over air, rain, earth and spirits. This division of power continues to this day. The families Ouédraogo and Sawadogo – as a sign of the agreement reached – still exchange their daughters in some places today.

National symbols

Flag and national anthem

The current flag was officially introduced on August 4, 1984, the first anniversary of the revolution. This replaced the first flag of the state of Upper Volta, a tricolor (black, white, red) of the “colonial” color scheme for the three major source rivers of the Volta. The three colors of the new flag (red, green and yellow) are the pan-African colors. Only the star is yellow. With him in the middle, Burkina Faso joined the number of revolutionary states (such as Vietnam). Red is also interpreted as the blood shed for the revolution and green as the fertility of the soil.

With a new name and a new flag, the country also received a new hymn, “le Ditanyè” or the “Hymn of Victory”, from the revolutionary leadership on August 4, 1984. It was composed by President Thomas Sankara himself. The melody was composed by the Dominican priest Réné Guigma.

National coat of arms and national holiday

The current national coat of arms is the fourth coat of arms since independence. It was introduced in 1997 and is based on the first coat of arms of Upper Volta after independence.

The national holiday is August 5th. On August 5, 1960, the country’s independence from France was proclaimed.
Since this day falls within the school holidays, December 11, the day on which the internally autonomous republic was proclaimed in 1958, remains a public holiday.

Burkina Faso Early History