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Unique mosque in historic Burkina Faso city retains its authenticity

The Grand Mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso   -  
Copyright © africanews
Joël Kouam

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has been plagued by terrorist attacks since 2015, a security crisis that has shaken the country and had a negative impact on the economy.

In the historic town of Bobo-Dioulasso, dating back from the 15th century, tourism has taken a hit.

Its impressive Grand Mosque with its unique architecture, dates back from the 1800s and was once a major attraction for tourists from abroad, including Europe, Asia, and the United States.

But in recent years, tourists are few and far between, due to a number of factors, as Siaka Sanou, Director of Arts and Tourism for the Hauts Bassins region explains.

“Among these, I think the most recurrent is the insecurity. Since the 2014 insurrection, we’ve witnessed a series of attacks in Burkina Faso, all of which have had a negative impact on tourists coming to the country," he says

Constructed from Banko, a mixture of terracotta, clay, fine sand, and organic elements, the mosque is supported by wooden poles.

The historic centre of the town, including the mosque, was added to UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List in 2012 , and it is a “must see” for tourists to the country.

“We used to see a lot of tourists, especially during the holidays. We could have between 25 and 50 a day. But now you can go a week, a month, without seeing any,” says Zakaria Sanou who is a tourist guide at the mosque.

To change this, Sanou says the authorities have decided to focus on promoting local tourism, targeting schoolchildren and students.

“In particular the ‘Do you know my beautiful country’ campaign aims to encourage the younger generation to discover their country's cultural heritage,” he says.

“We have managed to maintain the number of visits to this site with tourists from Burkina Faso, and by actively involving, students, schoolchildren, and workers, so that this site is really visible.”

In 2019, the mosque was restored at a cost of more than 500 million dollars.

Given the local context, only domestic tourism can revive the city’s beautiful architecture. An initiative that will boost social cohesion between peoples and religions.

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