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In Burkina Faso, eating and drinking next to cemeteries is part of life



It’s 10 a.m. at the maquis (sometimes called “circuit” or nganda, maquis designates a type of restaurant in French-speaking Africa) “The straw hut”, located in sector 1 of Koudougou in the Center-West region. Two grillers, respectively pork and sheep, activate their fire. Under a neemi tree, some customers have just finished their rice dishes, others are still waiting to be served by the saleswoman.

Tables and chairs are set up in front of the maquis, which faces the main entrance to a cemetery. From 9:30 a.m., the maquis is open. Customers can “sip” their beer. A few dozen meters away, there are two other maquis side by side, La Garde and Choco plus. They all face the cemetery wall

Inside the Guard, there was no crowd, because it was a working day. Teacher Denis Yaméogo, on vacation, aged around 50, is waiting for friends. “I come here to drink often and the place is really clean,” he said.

Eat and drink among ghosts

On weekends, the maquis near the cemeteries refuse people and can close at midnight, or even beyond. On the eve of holidays, customers return to their homes early in the morning. The manager of the La Garde maquis, Roland Yaméogo, says that in three months, the turnover can be around 3 million FCFA (4,500 euros) and in the year 42 million FCFA (64,000 euros).

“When maquis opened in December 2021, there was only one waitress. Nowadays, there are six of them, including students. The number of girls contributed to the increase in turnover,” he enthuses.

The customers who encounter this scrub next to the cemetery, because it is fenced, do not seem to be worried or afraid. For one of them who requested anonymity, the main thing is that the beer is cold: “No one is eternal on earth. Sooner or later, we will join our predecessors. We live with ghosts every day”, he adds.

The managers of the maquis believe that those looking for money have no fear of anything, as long as there is enthusiasm for the activity being carried out. Céline Yaméogo is a dolotière (dolo brewer, an ancestral beer obtained by the fermentation of red sorghum or millet sprouted and cooked in water). Its cabaret, which also faces a cemetery, is always full. Customers, calabashes of dolo in hand, laugh, pat each other and discuss current issues.

Mme Yaméogo explains that when one of her clients dies, she

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