Day of Customs and Traditions in Burkina Faso Date in the current year: May 15, 2024

Day of Customs and Traditions in Burkina Faso The Day of Customs and Traditions is a public holiday in Burkina Faso celebrated annually on May 15. It was established following the 2022 coup d’états to reaffirm the secular nature of the state and allow traditional religion to regain its place in society.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. Since its independence from France in 1960, the country has had a tumultuous history marked by political turmoil, multiple coups and coup attempts, and Islamist insurgency.

Since the mid-2010s Burkina Faso has been severely affected by the rise of Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region of West Africa. An Islamist insurgency in Sahel, also referred to as the Sahel War, started during the early stages of the Mali War (late 2011 – early 2012) and spread to Burkina Faso in 2015. Due to terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people have died, and more than 2 million people have become displaced persons.

In January 2022, the Burkina Faso Armed Forces led by Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba overthrew president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in a coup d’état due to his inability to manage the security and humanitarian crisis caused by the deepening Islamist insurgency. Eight months later, Damiba was overthrown in another coup and replaced by Ibrahim Traoré, who still was the country’s interim leader as of May 2024.

In March 2024, the interim Cabinet of Burkina Faso established a new public holiday, the Day of Customs and Traditions, to promote secularism amid the ongoing Islamist insurgency while recognizing the important role of traditional religion within Burkinabè society and celebrating diversity and multiculturalism.

Most of the population of Burkina Faso belong to two major cultural groups, the Gur and the Mandé. However, each of these groups consists of dozens of ethnolinguistic subgroups; there are almost 70 languages spoken in Burkina Faso, of which about 60 are indigenous. Interestingly, most of the country’s ethnic groups are religiously heterogeneous, i.e. members of the same group can adhere to different religions.

According to the 2019 census, almost 64% of the country’s population identify as Muslims, with Sunni Muslim being the predominant branch of Islam in Burkina Faso. About 26% of the population identify as Christian (around 20% Catholics and around 6% members of various Protestant denominations), and around 9% follow various traditional African religions. However, it should be noted that some traditional indigenous beliefs and practices are widespread among Muslims and Christians alike.

Customs and Traditions Day was created to further integrate these traditional religious practices into society and empower communities to proudly embrace them while reaffirming that Burkina Faso is a secular state. It also acknowledges and celebrates the country’s diverse cultural heritage, helping to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity and unite the population in the face of a threat.

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