Friday, January 11, 2008

The Ouaga rumour mill is grinding away at full force this evening. The info is often unreliable and garbled, but the radio and tv stations here are under pressure from the government NOT to cover "sensational breaking news" (as we'd call it in the USA). The powers that be have determined that letting radio stations give out news about events( like last December's clashes between the police and military) serves no purpose but to frighten people ( And perhaps to tell other discontents where the action is.)
So, the rumour mill turns...
I was in a shop near the Lycée late this afternoon. When I came back out to the car, I noticed many children leaving school early, being picked up by parents and drivers. My own driver was full of the very latest Ouaga news. He had been gathering all the details from the other drivers, vendors and folks out in the street. Mahama reported that the story making the rounds is that a Burkinabé man had gone to get fcfa for Euros at the home of a Lebanese money changer. Upon seeing that it was a huge amount of money, the Lebanese man killed the Burkinabé, took the cash, locked up the house and left the country.
As he told me all this, I saw that some of the shops were closing, even though it was only 5pm.
They were all reacting to the rumour that this death was going to be "avenged" by Burkinabé mobs, who would come and attack Lebanese businesses, which are numerous here.
I don't know how much of this is true...It certainly all seems highly unlikely. But listening to the radio yields nothing. All of downtown could be on fire and you wouldn't hear a word of it in the media here.
There is certainly lots of tension between the Burkinabé and the Lebanese community in daily life. Many of the latter have been here for generations, but retain a very separate identity. As a general rule, the Lebanese are resented for their prosperity. They are also seen by the Burkinabé as harsh employers.
I am hoping that it all comes to nothing. But I'm glad that I did my grocery shopping already and won't have to venture out tomorrow. People are saying that the weekend is going to "chauffe" (get hot!).

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