Childhood

By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Burkina Faso; Mossi peoples

Biiga (doll)

Wood

H. 26.04 cm (10 1/4")

The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.473

During the first years of life both boys and girls live with their mothers.  Older children help with the care of younger siblings, and with daily chores.  Although the amount of public education available varies greatly from one African country to another, generally schooling is mandatory at least through primary school.  When boys are old enough to be weaned, and well before the onset of puberty, they move out of their mother's home and move in with their father.  They begin to learn from their father and paternal uncles the skills they will need as adults.  They go to the fields each morning to help with planting, cultivation and harvest, and accompany their elders on hunting trips into the wilderness in search of wild game to supplement the family diet.  Small boys may make tiny weapons with which they practice hunting large insects and small rodents.