Landlocked and arid, Burkina Faso is considered one of the poorest countries in the world despite having rich gold reserves. Historically dominated by the Mossi kingdoms, Burkina Faso, then known as the French Upper Volta, existed as a French protectorate from 1896 to 1960.
Since independence, the country has been wracked by debilitating political instability. Following several coups and successive governments, Blaise Compaoré seized power in 1987 by deposing then-president Thomas Sankara. Compaoré remains the country's president. The Parachute Drop by prominent newspaper editor Norbert Zongo -- who was found killed in 1998 -- provides a critical view of Burkina Faso's contemporary politics.
Due to its years under French colonial rule, the bulk of contemporary literature emerging from Burkina Faso is written in French. Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema are influential writers whose works were published immediately following Burkina Faso's independence in 1960. Burkinabé writer, poet, and griot Titinga Frédéric Pacéré's book Le language des tam-tams et des masques Afrique showed the importance of oral story-telling through music and dance in the transmission of culture. Sarah Bouyain, Suzy Henrize Nikiéma, Bernadette Dao, and Angèle Bassolé Ouédraogo are amongst the women writers whose works detail the experiences of women in the country.
FESPACO, considered 'Africa's Oscars', is the premier cultural event in Burkina Faso. Since 1969, the biannual event has highlighted established and emergent directors from across the continent. Buud Yam, directed by Burkinabé filmmaker Gaston Kaboré, won FESPACO's top prize in 1997. Drawn from Burkina Faso's oral story-telling, the historical drama explores African traditional practices. Other Burkinabé films have also garnered acclaim, including Missa Hebié's Le fauteuil (The Armchair) that won the Oumarou Ganda Prize in 2009.