On the West African savannah, there's an extraordinary village in Burkina Faso called Tiébélé. It's been settled since the 15th century by the royal court of the Kassena people. There is something very special about this village's earthen architecture.
Each home is a work of art. Although the village is closed to tourists, photographer Rita Willaert traveled to Tiébélé in 2009 and took these incredible photos.
The villagers have had some interest in opening up their community to tourists for economic reasons, but there's a great concern about the conservation of their structures and traditions as well. To date, Tiébélé is still very isolated.
Travel blogger Olga Stavrakis writes of the village, "… It was only through a process of year long negotiations that we were permitted to enter the royal palace the entrance of which is pictured here. They were awaiting us and the grand old men of the village, the nobility, were all seated waiting for us. Each of the villages has muslims and animists (local religions) and no one much cares who believes in what. However, we were told in advance that we must not wear anything red and we may not carry an umbrella. Only the chiefly noble family is permitted that privilege and to do so would constitute a great affront to our hosts… "
The chief's small door is for protection.
The interior of the structures is more simple, but still artfully elegant.
“Most meals are cooked in one pot over a brazier,” explains Olga, “There is little cutting and preparation required. They generally make a starch foofoo or thick paste like porridge which is then dipped into a sauce of vegetables and peppers. The richer the family the more goes into the sauce. Foofoo is made of cassava, yam, plantain, or corn.”