Monday, April 07, 2008

The Ouaga Rumour Mill turned away like mad yesterday, but I didn’t want to post without getting some solid details.
So, here's what I learned this morning from journalist Ramata Soré this morning: Burkina is gearing up for a two-day general strike.

The peaceful demonstration I saw Friday morning near the university was actually a student strike.
At that same moment a big group of the main Burkinabe workers' unions was meeting with the national government, bringing six demands to the table- measures aimed at dealing with the dramatic cost of living increases in Burkina over the last few months .
Out of six demands, only one was met- the one dealing with the minimal prices/quantities of water and electricity for the poorest households. ( if you consume below a certain threshold, you pay at a much lower rate than households that consume a greater amount) All other demands- such as a 25% increase in salaries and pensions for many workers- were not met.
They are meeting again today, but if at least two more of the demands aren’t met, they plan general strikes for Tuesday and Wednesday.

More news: this morning, three of our household workers came to me for salary advances. They said that stocks of corn and millet are running very low in the city and they want to stock up with a few sacks each. I knew that rice was a problem, as there is already a global shortage and prices recently have reached record highs. But extremely low stocks of millet and corn in Burkina in early April is definitely a very bad sign.

I am no expert on the subject, but I’m guessing that many of the farmers are holding on to more of their grain, rather than selling it for cash. Having a granary full of food for your family has to be better than just having money which buys less and less food every day.

Me? I’m going to the grocery store to stock up. Just in case.

Then I’ll be over at Papiers du Sahel. I’ll work on making greeting cards and probably chat with the women about what they think of the latest developments.


babzee said...

Thank you for the update, and for keeping such a fine balance between cultural, political and personal reportage.

A dozen Americans living in France are interviewed in the movie "Sicko". One of the outstanding differences they agreed on was that the French government is "afraid" of protests, and listens to The People when they demonstrate and strike. This was a concept so foreign to me -- a child of Kent State -- that I've been thinking about it ever since. In the US (and when places like BF - or China - are portrayed in our media), protesters are dismissed as childish, petulant and ineffectual, and I know now that my own perceptions have been sadly twisted by this.

Benoit Lescarbeau said...

Good luck! I hope everything goes well.