Friends of Burkina Faso
Friends of Burkina Faso (FBF) is a NPCA-affiliated charitable organization made up of Burkina RPCVs, families, and friends. For more information, check out their website. For membership information, click here.
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BURKINA FASO 50TH Anniversary Celebration in Washington D.C.
“Duniya faa pa tar zood ye, la tond taralame.”
The Friends of Burkina Faso (FBF) were invited and several members
attended two extraordinary events that occurred this last weekend
celebrating Burkina Faso’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. The first
event was a Burkina Faso Embassy hosted celebration at the Washington
Marriott. The second was a 50th Anniversary Celebration that was hosted
by ABURWA, the Association of people from Burkina living in the
Friday’s Burkina Faso 50th Anniversary gala event was
attended by a wide array of people from the diplomatic corps, including
Jason Small, the Deputy Director of the Office of West African Affairs
from the U.S. State Department. It celebrated the 50th Anniversary of
Burkina Faso’s independence and the extraordinary relationship and
friendship between Burkina Faso and the United States. The event began
with the playing of the national anthems of both Burkina Faso and the
United States. Paul Robert Tiendrebeogo, Ambassador Deputy Permanent
Representative to the United Nations from Burkina Faso, addressed the
audience. He spoke of the hist
ory of independence over the last 50
years and he also spoke of recent activities that provided evidence of
the positive and friendly relationship between the United States and
Burkina Faso--including the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement
and, most recently, the addition on December 16, 2010 of another 30
Peace Corps volunteers in Burkina Faso. An address was also given by
Jason Small from the U.S. Department of State, echoing the positive and
cooperative relationship between Burkina Faso and the United States.
Mr. Small put the evolving U.S./BF relationship into context and
mentioned the presence of the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso since 1967.
He also made reference to recent movements towards development and
Saturday’s ABURWA 50th Anniversary all-night celebration
started at 8:00 p.m. and did not end until nearly 4:00 a.m. This very
festive event included opening addresses by Guy Lingani, the ABURWA
president, and Pascal Batjobo, the Burkina Charge d’Affaires. These
presentations celebrated the significance of the 50th Anniversary of
Burkina Faso’s Independence and the friendship between Burkina Faso and
the United States, including specific references to the Friends of
Burkina Faso. After the Charge d’Affaires spoke, Drissa Dao from ABURWA
introduced Mike Lavoie, the new FBF President. Mr. Dao’s warm
introduction of Mike Lavoie included a description of FBF’s long time
commitment to Burkina Faso and also the special partnership that
continues to exist between Mike’s village of Namtenga and Cranbrook
Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Mike Lavoie spoke to the audience, expressed appreciation for the
invitation to Burkina Faso’s anniversary events in D.C., and offered
congratulations to the Charge d’Affaires of Burkina, all friends of
Burkina Faso, and to all FBF members who are in Burkina Faso today.
Mike observed that there was something very marvelous occurring at this
moment in history, namely the convergence of three separate
anniversaries. He observed the remarkable coincidence of the Burkina
Faso independence and the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary occurring at the
same time. He also noted the 10th year anniversary of the Namtenga and
Cranbrook Schools’ relationship.
To celebrate and mark these anniversaries, Mike Lavoie provided two
gifts to Pascal Batjobo, the Charge d’Affaires. The first was the 50th
Anniversary poster that had been created through the wonderful efforts
of Jon Berger and Denny Fitzpatrick. You will see a picture of this
separately. The second gift was a special framing of one of the
original weavings from the Namtenga Weaving Studio along with a picture
of the Cranbrook Schools with a note of congratulations.
In his remarks to the audience, Mike noted how our friendships have
endured not just months or a few years, but over decades. He concluded
his remarks with a reference to what he said in Namtenga in a visit
three years ago: “Duniya faa pa tar zood ye, la tond taralame.” “Tout
le monde n'a pas l'amitie, mais nous l'avons.” (All the world does not
have friendship but we have it). Mike then related the same message of
friendship to the audience.
The gifts of FBF and Cranbrook Schools were very well
received and, after the speech, expressions of appreciation and respect
were forthcoming from not only the Charge d’Affaires but also many in
Following the presentation, musical stars from Burkina Faso
put on a fabulous show. These included singer Mai Lingani, George
Ouedraogo, Hamed Smani and the Troupe Noong Taaba. The music and
dancing was sensational! Mike Lavoie took particular enjoyment dancing
with Mai Lingani whom he had met when she passed through Detroit on a
concert tour earlier this year.
All in all, Burkina had a marvelous 50th Anniversary
Celebration this past weekend in D.C. and it was an honor for FBF to
have been able to participate in a meaningful and enjoyable way.