Friday morning, 6 am.
My iPhone alarm goes off. I'm not an early riser, but my colleague has convinced me that a must-see in Ouagadougou is the Moro-Naba ceremony that takes place every Friday morning at the Moro-Naba Palace. The Moro-Naba is the king of the Mossi, the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso which makes about 40% of the population. It's a traditional ceremony and not something put on for tourists. Importantly, photos during the ceremony are strictly forbidden so that in itself makes me curious.
Time goes by... 7.00... 7.15... 7.30... but not much happens… without our morning coffee we're starting to become a little impatient. Then, a lone servant saddles up a horse and begins decorating it elaborately. OK now surely it's going to start! Um, no. Back to clock watching and not much happening.
As 8.00 draws closer the crowd begins to draw in. Old Peugots and Mercs begin pulling up and drop off what appears to be important Mossi elders clad in beautiful long robes, red round hats and carrying traditional wooden objects. Some more arrive at full speed on their tuned-up mopeds. They greet each other with great reverence and sit on the ground according to rank: in the first row sit the Moro-Naba's spokesman and his chief ministers and, behind them, other dignitaries in descending order of seniority. Then Moro-Naba appears, dressed in red, the symbol for war. Suddenly we hear a crack as a cannon is fired. Now I'm definitely awake. From where I'm standing I can't quite make out what's happening, but the king's most senior subjects approach His Majesty to pay their respect. The Naba then retires in a mud hut, while his horse is unsaddled and takes off at a brisk trot.
A few minutes later the Moro-Naba reappears, dressed all in white (a sign of peace), and with that, the gathered crowd jumps back on their motorbikes and zooms off to tend to their days' business.