Thursday, August 24, 2006
The Great Mosque in Djenne, Mali is the world’s largest mud-brick building. The 13th century mosque (restored in 1906) is situated on an island in the Niger river delta, at the centre of one of the oldest towns in Africa. The thousand-year-old thatch and mud-brick town of Djenne is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1240 C.E. Sultan Koi Koumboro, the ruler of Djenne, converted to Islam and transformed his palace into a mosque. Djenné became a centre of Islamic learning attracting students from all over West Africa. By the 1830’s the Mosque had fallen into almost complete disrepair, and was reconstructed in 1906 using the designs of local architect Ismaila Traoré. It can now hold 3000 worshippers. Every spring the mosque’s smooth mud coating is renewed and the entire town gets involved. Up to 6000 men, women and children organised into teams complete the massive task in less than a month in a messy but fun communal effort..