The largest theater festival on the continent is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary in Ouagadougou. In a context marked by political instability and the resurgence of terrorist violence, this 12th edition of Récréâtrales had a sad theme that reflects an equally sad reality - violence in the Sahel.
The festival chose for one of the two opening shows, a play entitled "Tu dis PDI" [You say IDP, internally displaced person, editor's note], which mixes dance and theater and song, performed in Pulaar and Moré by women victims of terrorism and refugees in the town of Kaya, in the north-central part of the country.
Mariame Ouédraogo is one of these women victims of terrorism and refuged in Kaya that became an actress thanks to Recreatrales. She agreed to act in the play to serve the cause of social reconstruction and the de-stigmatization of relations between Peuhl and Mossi by participating in a play in which Peuhl and Mossi play together.
"This work has done me a lot of good, most of us almost lost our memory in sadness, but this show has allowed us to find the joy of living" she says.
These women are also featured in "Face-", a photographic series created by the Cameroonian photographer, director and novelist Osvalde Lewat, which seeks to highlight the dignity and greatness of these women by offering them a different view of their situation, that of strong and fighting women.
“I met these women and I must admit that the first word that came to my mind was the word of the exhibition...FACE. Women who stand up, who face, who fight. Women who faced the disaster that became their life, since they had to abandon everything to live in improvised dwellings, sometimes in the market. I was particularly moved to see that in spite of all that, it was their faces that gave this abstract term, internally displaced people, meaning,” stated Lewat.
Throughout the festival, which as always takes place in the family courtyards of the Bougsemtenga neighborhood and in the famous Rue 9.32, host of the Récréâtrales, the woman on the photos from the "Face-" series will be present.
In a country fractured politically, socially and security-wise, these women who did not speak to each other before, who lived in different refugee camps, and who today perform together in the same show, are the symbol of a possible convergence and reconciliation, thanks in particular to art. Moreover, as Aristide Tarnagda, festival director says, devoting an exhibition to these women, who until now have been drowned in the flood of internally displaced persons, "is to participate in their recovery, in the return of their dignity, their beauty, their faith in themselves that has been stolen by those who kill, pillage, rape, and humiliate."
In Burkina Faso alone, approximately two million people have fled their homes because of terrorist and armed gang attacks.
The organizers of this 12th edition of the festival are unanimous, when a country goes through difficult times; it is felt in the artistic creation because the pain as any feeling cannot be ignored.
Since 2002, the Récréâtrales are "a pan-African space for writing, creation and theatrical dissemination. A space that allows young artists authors, directors, scenographers and actors, to create, share and live from their art.