The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Nature, Spirits and Arts in Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy (1947-2019)
University of Iowa

Kassena artist, village of Tiebele, Burkina Faso, 1984. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

Most of the peoples of Burkina Faso live in rural farming communities such as this one, in which extended families build round or rectangular homes of adobe (sun-dried brick). Several buildings house the women of the family, centered on a larger, sometimes rectangular house, which is the husband's. Smaller structures serve as storehouses for grain, which may be dried on the flat roofs of the houses safe from sheep and goats. The fields that belong to each family may surround the farmhouse, or the farmer may walk some distance through the village to reach his fields at the edge of the community. Each family is assigned land by a male descendant of the first family to settle in the area. Land is allocated based on the size of the family and the number of workers available to cultivate.