Burkina Faso had its quiet revolution on October 30th by demonstrating massively to obtain the departure of president Compaoré. The Ouagalab makers took part in the demonstrations… whilst completing work on the future fablab.
A fablab is above all a community of citizens. When Burkina Faso goes through with its revolution and citizens are directly involved, priorities are reviewed. The Ouagalab in construction experienced this during these last two weeks that were historic for Burkina Faso.
A revolution and a building site
We had left the Ouagalab in the euphoria of the Kisskissbankbank good news of July when the whole team was busy reconfiguring the courtyard as fast as possible in order to open the Ouagalab before the end of the year and thus extend the community. Courtyard cleared, wall broken, metal gate put in: the photos on their Facebook page show the work in progress and have enthusiastic comments. The idea of renovating the existing hut with a canvas roof went down the drain. It was replaced by the construction of mud-brick premises, future cosy little nest for the team projects, consistent with the Burkinabe architectural heritage.
While the builders, specialists in mud-brick construction from the association “La voûte nubienne”, were busy making the Ouagalab bricks, tension was building up throughout the country. The latent revolt from months back was not far away. Not one day went by without an appeal to demonstrate emanating from makers or posts of discontent regarding the desire of Blaise Compaoré, president for 27 years, to establish a modification in the Constitution to seek a fifth mandate. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought to the streets millions of irate people from Burkina Faso as evidenced in real time by the local newspaper Burkina 24.
Kisito Gamene, active member of the Ouagalab just back from a cartography training in the Ivory Coast, explains: “Yes I returned home but I am worried about the situation of my country… Blaise wants to hang on to power but nothing is going right.” Everyone’s mind is on the large demonstration planned on the morning of November 6th in front of the National Assembly where the much talked about vote is to take place.
Translation: A picture taken from the air of the rallying in Place de la Nation this Tuesday morning in Ouagadougou. We learnt that several towns of Burkina Faso also responded to the call from the opposition (Bobo-Dioulasso, Kaya, Ouahigouya, Tenkodogo, amongst others).
The bricks are drying but work is suspended. The makers have joined the big march. According to Gildas Guiella, co-founder of the Ouagalab, “We are not safe here. I can hear gunfire.” The morning was particularly eventful: the Parliament was burnt down and the government dissolved. That same evening Blaise Compaoré resigned.
Clean, sweep, lay cement
Friday November 7th, the situation seems to have stabilised. Now is the time to give the town a thorough cleaning thanks to mobilisation of the population. The sweeping goes on in the streets but also in the courtyard of the Ouagalab where the bricks are ready and the walls are being built. On Saturday November 8th work resumes on the building site with the construction of the first vault.
When Ouagadougou is calm again, at the Ouagalab the roof is completed on the evening of November 8th after a fortnight of building work nonetheless slowed down by the revolution. The team chose to dedicate itself on all fronts: some on the building site, others cleaning the streets.
A particularly activist OpenStreetMap geographer summarises the determination that is characteristic of the young Ouagalab community: “Following the blistering revolution of the conscious youth of “the country of honest men”, it is time for reconstruction. And the Ouagalab is the example of resurgence of the youth of Burkina Faso who decided to move forward together. Ouagalab, same vision, same combat. Our motherland is our common heritage, let’s stand together and we will go a long way.”