Our man in Ouagadougou

There are some things you just wish you could say at some point in life, and there isn’t much that beats ‘And now for the news from our man in Ouagadougou.’ Even when that man is not quite in Ouagadougou, but more like Djibo. Still Burkina Faso, so good enough. (OK, I wouldn’t mind mentioning Tegucigalpa, but for now we’ll stick with Africa.)

Having been put in touch with Stephen Davies who wrote the rather good Outlaw, we’re embarking on a blog tour where a blog tour really makes perfect sense. It’s very hard to tour in person from Djibo. So we’ll do the virtual stuff until such a time as Steve makes it back here. I won’t call it civilisation, as I’m having my doubts about the truth of that now.

We had half planned for him to contribute to Bookwitch earlier this week, but Steve was unexpectedly somewhat stuck in Niger. As you tend to be, sometimes. But now, without more ado; ‘Here is the news from Ouagadougou, and more!’

Fulani friends

“Last month my adopted home Burkina Faso went mad. Students protested on the streets of the capital (the deliciously named Ouagadougou), gangs of phonecard-salesmen smashed up traffic lights and petrol stations, and before we knew it the presidential guard had mutinied and the army was roaming around shooting and looting.

Even in my home town Djibo in the north (described in the Brandt travel guide as a ‘sleepy desert outpost’) schoolboys were on the streets yelling ‘Justice! Justice!’ and throwing stones at the police headquarters. I asked Oumaru, my next door neighbour’s fourteen year-old son, what justice they wanted, and he told me about a schoolboy from a faraway town, Justin Zongo, who had died of head injuries after being beaten up by a policeman. Zongo lit the blue touchpaper, but it could equally have been any of a million other big or small injustices committed over the last twenty-four years by policemen, soldiers, mayors, councillors, and corrupt mid-ranking officials.


Must be something in the water. Whilst Oumaru and his schoolmates were protesting, my new book ‘Outlaw’ was being printed, and that also contains – no, is – a cry for justice. The main character – the Chameleon – is an outlaw who lives in the desert near Djibo. Surrounded by his loyal gang, he cheerfully goes about righting wrongs, outing villains, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. How I wish he would come to life!”

Well, who doesn’t? The Chameleon is a worthy modern successor to the Scarlet Pimpernel and others.

I might have forgotten to mention this, but I do think you should read Outlaw. If only for Justin Zongo.

7 responses to “Our man in Ouagadougou

  1. I adore The Scarlet Pimpernel, so it sounds like this book would be right up my alley.

    PS, Ouagadougou has come to my rescue at many a trivia night.

  2. Wow, Ebony, you knew of Ouagadougou already, I’m impressed! It’s worth a visit sometime – Ouaga has an excellent biennial film festival called FESPACO and a (tbh less excellent) book festival called FILO.

  3. Tomorrow Steve will be doing something over at The Book Zone (For Boys):

  4. OK, OK! Is it set in Burkina Faso? I sponsor a child there. More reason to read it….

    • How interesting. Do you know what town (s)he lives in?

      I would have finished Outlaw earlier if it weren’t for you, Meg 😉 I was writing in Chichester library (taking a year out from Africa) and happened to pick up a copy of ‘How I Live Now’ on my lunch break. ‘Lunch’ took four and a half hours. Great book, very moving, no regrets about the delay!

  5. Meg, it is. You must.

    Steve, you and I think alike! HILN is my favourite. But I did let my (first) read stretch a little longer. And I doubt any of us noticed that Outlaw arrived four hours late…

  6. Pingback: Outlaw blog tour : Voice in the Desert

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.