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xi Introduction The Moogo The region of the Moose1 people (who are incorrectly referred to as ‘‘Mossi’’ in old literature) is called Moogo. It occupies the entire central zone of Burkina Faso, or about 63,500 square kilometers, making up one fifth of the country. The Moogo is subdivided into several kingdoms: Tenkodogo, Wagdgo, and Yaatinga, which correspond to the modern cities of Tenkodogo, Ouagadougou and Yatenga. It includes other districts and principalities such as Bulsa, Mané, Busuma, and Yako. The kingdom located in the center of the region includes today’s capital of Ouagadougou. It is here that the chief ruler of the Moose, the moogo naaba, resides. The Moose have a high opinion of their way of life (moogo) which they consider the best of all possible worlds and which is in opposition to the life of the bush (weeogo). For a long time the Moose rejected outside influences by adhering to a fierce and warrior-like isolation. For them, a stranger is someone who cannot be understood within the context of traditional culture or the main religious beliefs. This perception explains to a certain extent their initial resistance to Islam and to other outside influences. The Moose also differentiate between moogo and dûnya2 . Moogo represents a geographical, cultural and religious entity while dûnya stands for the everyday world. Several sayings and proverbs reflect this notion of dûnya: Dûnya yaa raaga. A sâ kê a pa zaed yiib ye. ‘‘Life in this world is like the market place. Once you enter, you are soon to leave.’’ 1. Singular: A Moaaga. 2. Word of Arabic origin which etymologically designates this lowly world. Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) xii Dûnya yaa menem a pa zaed yiib ye. ‘‘Life is like the dew at sunrise. It soon evaporates and disappears.’’ Dûnya yaa yugemde, a sâ n gâande, bi f pîndi zombe. ‘‘The world is like a camel. When it’s lying down, you should take the opportunity to climb onto its back.’’ Dûnya yaa belgr doogo. ‘‘The world is a deceptive dwelling place’’ Dûnya!…Ne fo me! ‘‘What a world !…. Yes, but you are part of it!’’ The general meaning of this last proverb is this: ‘‘Let us not be surprised at what happens to us, for we are all affected by life’s circumstances.’’ God and the Ancestors The social universe of the Moose grants an important role to the ancestors, who protect and preserve the values of the group. It is they who watch over the life of the community. There does exist, nevertheless, a supreme God (Wende), who is responsible for all things in life: fate, good, and evil. However he is only accessible by way of the ancestors. Thus in traditional religion, the role assigned to the ancestors is one of asking, giving, and receiving. The typical Moaaga is extremely polite. He will first address the king, then go through those who lived on earth before him—his ancestors—when asking something of God. The traditional Moaaga fears his ancestors more than God. He will more readily take God’s name in vain (‘‘For God’s sake!’’), than swear in the name of his dead father or in the name of the family spirits. This leads him to forgive more easily on behalf of his forefathers than on God’s behalf. He will also relent in the name of his ancestor. But once he does swear by his ancestor, he will persevere to the end, for he would rather die than go back on his word. Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso xiii The Family The Moose possess a strong social structure that is based on the family (buudu). Within the family unit a child receives an education which values the collectivity. The Moose believe that friendship is a feeling that may end one day, whereas family ties are eternal. The buudu is comprised of the larger family of relatives on the father’s side which protects the child and helps the child to grow. The father and mother represent the foundation to which the child owes respect and obedience. The Moore Language The term Moore designates both the language and the culture of the Moose people. Moore is spoken by over three million people in Burkina Faso as well as in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, two countries where the Moose have migrated. Moore also serves as the lingua franca...


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