Burkina Faso Culture

Burkina Faso Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has a relatively lively pressure for African conditions. There are three newspapers, among others. the independent Observator Paalga (edition: about 8,000 copies) and state-owned Sidwaya (about 3,000 copies).

The state-owned company Radiodiffusion Nationale du Burkina (founded in 1959) broadcasts in two national and two regional radio channels in French and local languages. There are also private radio stations. State television, Télévision Nationale du Burkina (TNB), has been broadcasting since 1963 in a channel dominated by imported French programs; TNB also broadcasts the French channel TV 5. There are 35 radio and 12 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, Burkina Faso is famous for the Fespaco Film Festival, the largest on the continent. The festival is held every two years in the capital Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso has become a center for African filmmaking.

Idrissa Ouédraogo, who has made films such as Yaaba and Tilaï, is the most famous Burkina director (1954–2018). Other prominent Burkina film directors include Sanou Kollo, Paul Zoumbara and Gaston Kaboré. The latter runs a film school in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso is also known for its masks, which are used in rituals within the traditional indigenous religions. Common motifs are the animal faces and images of spirit beings.

Groups of traditional professional musicians are common. They travel around and tell family and chief chronicles through their music at parties and celebrations.

Mass Media

Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are governed by the Constitution, but there is a law that makes it possible to ban media that disseminates false information or threatens the nation’s security. Still, the audacity in the press is great compared to many other West African countries.

Burkina Faso ranked 46 out of 180 countries in the organization Reporters Without Borders Index of Media Freedom in the World 2015. The situation for the media deteriorated during the troubled period following President Compaore’s resignation in October 2014 when a military-backed transitional government took over. In connection with the takeover, journalists were harassed by the military and editors were forced to close temporarily. Initially, they took control of the country’s etheric media. The situation improved gradually and in December 2015 Burkina Faso got a new civilian head of state through free and general elections.

One case that has attracted considerable attention for a long time is the 1998 murder of Norbert Zongo, editor of the government-critical journal l’Indépendant. The murder triggered a political crisis (see Modern History) and has affected the Burkinian media climate. A brother of former President Compaoré has been singled out for involvement in the murder, but he has never been brought to justice. A charge brought against a member of the president’s life guard was dropped in 2006. The following year, two journalists at L’Evénement magazine were sentenced to conditional imprisonment and fined for defamation by Compaoré after submitting a critical report from the Reporters Without Borders organization. The previously accused man died in 2009 and other suspects are also reported to be dead. In March 2015, the investigation into the Zongo murder was resumed and in December the same year three members of Compaore’s old life guard were indicted.

Widespread illiteracy contributes to the fact that there are only a handful of newspapers, all with small editions. The largest are the privately owned L’Observateur Paalga and Le Pays as well as the state daily Sidwaya. Both are now also available on the internet. In addition, a number of journals are published, both in French and in local languages. Newspapers are largely read only by the middle class in the cities.

The most important source of information for the majority of the population is the state radio RTB (Radiodiffusion-Télévision du Burkina), which reaches across the country and broadcasts in several different languages. In the cities it has competition from a large number of privately owned radio stations, mainly in Ouagadougou. Foreign radio stations such as the British BBC, American Voice of America and French Radio France Internationale also broadcast freely in the country.

Television broadcasts have since 2006 reached all over Burkina Faso. In addition to the state television company TNB (Télévision Nationale du Burkina), there are a number of privately owned TV channels.

Fewer than five percent of the population has access to the Internet (2015). Most people who use the internet connect via mobile. Broadband subscriptions usually cost more than an average annual income.


Percentage of the population using the internet

16 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

98 (2018)



The National Assembly adopts new electoral laws

For example, a party must have received at least three percent of the votes in the previous election in order to be entitled to party support, and the size of the support must be determined by the number of seats a party receives in the election. Another change is that at least 30 percent of the party’s candidates must be women.

Burkina Faso Culture

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