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Africa’s premier film festival, FESPACO, opened in the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday with a colourful high-energy ceremony and a message: Burkina Faso is back!

The biannual cinema event, postponed for eight months due to Covid-19, returned in style for its 27th edition, with an all-singing, all-dancing, star-studded opening ceremony.

Recording artist Amzy struck the opening note with “Bienvenue à Ouaga” (Welcome to Ouaga). People bicycled behind him, recreating life in the Burkinabé capital in miniature.

A modern dance troupe showcased the best of Burkinabé choreography while West African singers sung or spoke, paying tribute to revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara and to Burkina Faso itself.

“It’s Africa in all its diversity and beauty, [a continent] that sings and dances, but is politically-aware,” Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, head of the jury, told RFI after the event. “Young politicians are speaking not with violence, but with force,” he said.

And the opening was just that – a potent look at a country which has suffered from political instability and security threats, but is determined to show attendees what it does best.

One of the most colorful numbers came from Burkinabé singer Hawa Boussim who performed astride a white stallion wearing an elaborate orange gown and turban made from a traditional hand-made striped cloth known as Faso Danfani. The stallion is a Burkinabé emblem and the festival’s top award is the Stallion of Yennenga prize.

Read or Listen to this story on the RFI website.