Walking into a coup d'etat in Ouagadougou

Walking into a coup d'etat in Ouagadougou PIC. LESEGO NCHUNGA
Walking into a coup d'etat in Ouagadougou PIC. LESEGO NCHUNGA

The Monitor columnist LESEGO NSWAHU NCHUNGA, who was in Ouagadougou during the January 24 military coup that overthrew Burkina Faso’s president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, recounts her ordeal in the west African nation

Hot humid and dusty! Those were my first thoughts as we disembarked from the very small East African airline. French filled the air! The language, the culture. There was a dusky hue to the horizon, like a scene in a high-end film when the protagonist arrives in Africa. This looked like the Africa of cinema – something set in the early 1980s, with women dressed up in Ankara and gele head wraps, babies on their backs, and men in bellbottoms with short-sleeved suit blazers, high top afros, and shiny shoes! There was a romance about it.

There was also an undercurrent of tension. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it. Even as we stepped outside the airport building (nothing grander than the Sir Seretse Khama Airport building), we could tell that something was looming. In retrospect, I’m sure that closer attention to the news and current affairs would have readied us for what was to come! When we bought the Moov Africa sim cards and 5gigabites of data, we were not expecting that they would soon be rendered completely useless, when life would stop temporarily, to stare us in the eye, for a check-in. It wasn’t easy to find our chauffeur.

Editor's Comment
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