Past Cities

Banfora, Cascades, Burkina Faso

Banfora is a city located in the Cascades region of Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. Nestled in the southwestern part of the country, Banfora has a rich history that is deeply intertwined with its political environment, geography, and the people who have inhabited it over the centuries.

The city of Banfora, as of 2021, had an estimated population of around 93,750 inhabitants. However, it's important to note that population figures may have changed since then due to factors such as natural population growth and migration.

The history of Banfora dates back to ancient times when the area was inhabited by various ethnic groups, including the Bobo, Senoufo, and Gourounsi peoples. These groups had their own distinct cultures and traditions, and their presence shaped the early development of the region.

One of the defining characteristics of Banfora is its geography. The city is situated in a fertile area known as the Banfora Cuesta, which is characterized by rolling hills, plateaus, and a multitude of water sources. The most prominent of these water sources is the Comoé River, which flows through the region, providing irrigation for agriculture and serving as a vital resource for the local population.

The political environment of Banfora has undergone significant changes throughout its history. In the pre-colonial era, the region was divided into various kingdoms and chiefdoms, each with their own rulers and systems of governance. These political entities engaged in trade, agriculture, and often had complex social hierarchies.

During the late 19th century, European powers began to establish colonial rule in Africa, and Burkina Faso, then known as Upper Volta, fell under French control. The colonization of Banfora led to the imposition of a new political and administrative framework. The French colonial authorities introduced a system of indirect rule, relying on local chiefs and traditional institutions to maintain control over the region.

The colonial period also brought significant economic changes to Banfora. The fertile land and abundant water resources made the region suitable for agricultural development. The French promoted the cultivation of cash crops such as cotton, peanuts, and coffee, which became important sources of revenue. This economic transformation had a profound impact on the local population, as many people transitioned from subsistence farming to cash crop production.

The struggle for independence in Burkina Faso, led by figures like Thomas Sankara, also influenced the history of Banfora. Sankara, who served as the country's president from 1983 to 1987, implemented a series of radical policies aimed at transforming Burkina Faso into a self-reliant and socially just nation. Banfora, like other parts of the country, experienced changes in land ownership, agricultural practices, and social structures during this period.

Since gaining independence in 1960, Burkina Faso has faced numerous challenges, including political instability, economic struggles, and security issues. These challenges have had repercussions for Banfora and its inhabitants. The city has witnessed waves of migration from rural areas, as people seek economic opportunities and safety from conflict-affected regions in other parts of the country.

Today, Banfora remains an important economic hub in the Cascades region. Agriculture, particularly the cultivation of cash crops, continues to be a major source of livelihood for the population. The city also benefits from its proximity to natural attractions such as the Karfiguéla Waterfalls, which draw tourists from both within Burkina Faso and abroad.