Burkina Faso is celebrating 50 years of independence this year. Independence day was in August, but the big celebration is tomorrow - and it is happening in Bobo!
Ever since I arrived in April, I have seen signs of activity leading up to this - most noticeably, they have been rebuilding the main roads in Bobo, which has led to loads of roadworks, diversions, bumpy surfaces and or course red dust. But in the last few days the roads have miraculously received tarmac surfaces, which is a big improvement.
It's a bonanza for anyone who sells or applies paint - painters have been madly at work smartening up buildings, walls by the side of the road, the mosque, the railway station... Lots of things have turned white; no doubt over the months which follow they will turn rusty beige again. A bonanza for banner makers too - banners are sprouting everywhere, linking promotion of anything from mobile phone networks to stock cubes to the anniversary. In Ouaga the cost of minibus hire has spiralled; here accommodation is all booked up, and shiny new signs pointing the way to hotels and restaurants seem to have sprouted over night. Bobo is suddenly crawling with gendarmes and uniforms of every kind - I have seen mounted police for the first time here.
Manufacturers and vendors of flags, bunting and anything red green and yellow; purveyors of promotional t-shirts and polo shirts (known locally as 'Lacoste') - all seem to be doing well.
Plants have appeared in the middle of dual carriageways, decorative lights have been attached to lamp-posts. In the last few weeks and days, building projects which have lasted months seem to have finished, with workers staying late at night. Temporary stages and eating places are mushrooming. Indeed almost everything looks almost ready. I have never seen Bobo looking so well turned out. Tomorrow will tell.
Pictures will follow!