Unique Mosque in West Africa As World Heritage

Mosque in West Africa on UNESCO World Heritage List

A Sudanese-style Mosque in Côte d’Ivoire, a West African country, is on the UNESCO world heritage list. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UN), UNESCO added the Mosque to the list of world heritage during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee

It is known that Sudanese-style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on Tuesday (27/7) during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee which is currently underway.

The addition of a Sudanese-style mosque north of the Cote d’Ivoire makes it the first African property to be inscribed on the prestigious list in this year’s session.

The Sudanese-style Masjdi north of the UNESCO world heritage-listed Cote d'Ivory. Photo: UNESCO World Heritage Centre
The Sudanese-style Masjdi north of the UNESCO world heritage-listed Cote d’Ivory. Photo: UNESCO World Heritage Centre

On the official website of the World Heritage Candidates, UNESCO explains that there are 8 mosques in Tengréla, Kouto, Sorobango, Samatiguila, M’Bengué, Kong and Kaouara, which are included in the world heritage list.

The mosque has a unique and distinctive feature that is made of brick, characterized by prominent wood, vertical supports crowned with pottery or ostrich eggs, and a tapered minaret.

These mosques present interpretations of architectural styles thought to have originated around the 14th century in the city of Djenné, then part of the Mali Empire, which prospered from the gold and salt trade across the Sahara to North Africa.

Particularly from the 16th century, this style spread southward from desert areas to the savannas of Sudan, becoming a lower buttress and developing in response to a wetter climate.

The mosques are the best preserved of the remaining 20 buildings in Côte d’Ivoire, where hundreds existed at the beginning of the last century.

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The typical style of Sudanese mosques, specific to the savanna region of West Africa, developed between the 17th and 19th centuries when merchants and scholars spread southward from the Mali Empire, extending trans-Saharan trade routes to forest areas.

They present a very important testimony to the trans-Saharan trade that facilitated the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture and the fusion reflects islamic and local architectural forms in a very distinctive style that has survived over time.

Prior to the meeting, the International Council for Monuments and Sites, the committee’s official advisory body, recommended that the committee postpone the examination of the nomination for reapplication.

However, the World Heritage Committee considers that the nominated property has outstanding universal value and meets the basic requirements for the inscription regarding its authenticity, integrity, protection and management.

Many State Party committees, including China, argue that Africa is underrepresented in the World Heritage List and support African property inscriptions. The committee ultimately decided to list the property as a world cultural site on the World Heritage List.

China is one of the co-signatories to the amendment to the draft decision in favor of the listing of such properties.

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee was held online and chaired from Fuzhou, Fujian Province in eastern China. This online meeting will last until July 31, 2021.

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