Horsemen from Burkina

If you come to Burkina, it is not unusual to meet a horseman pacing the streets. The emblematic horse of Burkina has a very close relationship with this country.


This bond raised from the legendary epic of Princess Yennenga and Malinké prince in exile. Yennenga means “the thin, the slender”, she is the founder of the Moogo kingdom bringing together the Mossi Fulani actual Burkina Faso. She is the daughter of King Nedega, an authoritarian and just king who reigned over the Dagomb peoples. The princess was passionate about horses, but despaired of not being able to ride as men did.

Rebel and reckless, she convinces her father to give her permission to ride alongside him and becomes a fierce warrior. Following a conflict with her father, who threw her in prison, however the princess managed to escape and fled on her favorite mount, a white stallion.On her run, she met Prince Malinké, with whom she fell madly in love. From their union was born Prince Ouedraogo which means “stallion” or “male horse”. Today this surname is one of the most widespread in Burkina Faso, and the white stallion on which the princess fled is today the national emblem of the country.

Today, only a few wealthy families own horses in town, young riders move through the streets and mingle with the frenetic traffic of the capital. Giving an appointment in front of a bar or a nightclub, they meet at ceremonies or shows. They allow everyone to remember the equestrian cult of nobility and beauty. It is also common to come across horses roaming freely, they sometimes stop in front of houses simply to graze, they are the kings of the city.

Philippe Bordas is a photographer who took a serie of pictures highlighting the Mossis riders.“I accompanied [the artist] Tiken Jah Fakoly, of which I was the photographer for a concert in Ouagadougou. Horsemen came to the airport and escorted us through town. They were very impressive, and that caught my curiosity. »

This collection of photographs allows us to immerse ourselves in the close relationship that the Ouagalais maintain with the majestic animal which is the horse.

© Philippe Bordas