From Africa to Missouri State
(St. Louis, MO) – Missouri State’s Abdul Fofana has an incredible story to tell of his journey from Africa to Springfield, Missouri, and it is just unfolding. The native of the small and impoverished nation of Burkina Faso (West Africa) is one of six newcomers on this year’s Bears team and head coach Paul Lusk believes he can play a significant role on this year’s squad.
But how did Fofana become a Division 1 player from one of the poorest nations in the earth and where soccer is the national past time? It wasn’t easy and the jovial Fofana had to have some help along the way.
The 6’7 sophomore averaged a double-double (15.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game) last season at Dakota College and plays with energy, joy and leaping ability. His worth ethic is praised by Lusk who says there is no sense of entitlement from this former member of the Burkina Faso U-16 team. Lusk says Fofana has a ‘servant’s mentality’.
While Fofana dreamed of playing college basketball, he initially came to the States to work on his education, but he was ‘discovered’ during his Houston Community College days, playing on a club basketball team and helped along the way by someone named ‘Mr. Pearl.’ That help led to his playing for Dakota College coach Brock Lemon, where he earned all-conference honors while setting a school record in double-doubles (21), and set the stage for his recruitment to Missouri State.
With a script right out of Hollywood, Fofana is now hoping to help the Bears win their first conference crown since 2011. Burkina Faso is the fourth poorest nation in the world and only 11.4 percent of the children under the age of two receive the daily recommended number of meals, and yet here is the muscular Fofana sprinting up and down the JQH Arena court and performing authoritative dunks at every opportunity.
‘Burkina Faso is the fourth poorest nation in the world’
Recent terrorist attacks and skirmishes along the Mali border have caused concern in the nation and in the heart of this Bear forward. In spite of that, Fofana says his father has volunteered for past military deployments to help pay for his son’s American education.
English is one of three languages he speaks fluently and his energy on the floor translates to any language. He is studying engineering with the hopes of helping the infrastructure of his native land.
Remember his name and his story, Abdul Fofana should have a significant career at Missouri State and Burkina Faso could use the help that could come from one of its native sons performing well on the basketball floor.
(Editor’s Note: I lost a friend in a terrorist attack in early 2016 in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou. For more on Mike Riddering’s death, go to this Miami Herald story).