So for the past two weeks, the south-east side of Ouagadougou has been teaming with Arts at Culture at the Salon International D’Artisanat de Ouagadougou or SIAO for short (pronounced see-ow-oh).
There are artists from 33 countries around Africa and the entire world, music performances, food, and more. It happens every two years in Ouagadougou, so this is the only time that I could go during my service. I saw booths from Egypt, Madagascar, Comoros, DR Congo, and even Pakistan.
The whole thing is pretty insane. For 1000 FCFA ($2) you can go into all the exposition halls and find everything from batiks to leather goods, jewelry, woodworking, painting, clothes, fabric (from all over north and west Africa). It is a shopper’s paradise. If you want to get souvenirs for friends and family back home this is the time to do it!
It can be overwhelming looking at all the different things to buy. It’s also very easy to spend a lot of money. Prices can be negotiated, which can be good/bad at the same time. Most PCVs are used to haggling because we do it all the time in our local Marchés.
I bought a ton of little clutches woven out of fabric scraps, black sachets (shopping bags) and water sachets. I also bought earrings, necklaces, Tuareg spoons and some leather goods.
I’m staying with an ex-pat friend who is hosting two Ivorienne artists (Frome Cote D’Ivoire), Maman and Solange. (Yes, that’s what everyone calls her, Maman). Maman is a rockstar. She is so sweet and helped get me in for the advanced viewing before the fair opened to the public. She does work with raffia and does wall hangings with it. I’d love to go visit her but the country is currently closed for travel during our service. But I’d rather be safe than sorry.
I’m so glad that I was able to make it for this festival and I highly recommend it if you are going to be anywhere near Ouagadougou when they hold it in 2014.
For more information: