Timbuktu’s Djinguereber mosque: a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 5 — The Guardian co UK

Constructed from the very earth on which it stands, Timbuktu’s oldest mosque is at the heart of daily life in the ancient city, loyally maintained by the proud descendants of its original builders

The Djinguereber mosque at the end of Friday midday prayers. Photograph, Sean Smith for the Guardian

The Djinguereber mosque at the end of Friday midday prayers. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Just as a public clock might establish the rhythm of some towns and cities, the Djinguereber mosque has set the time for nearly 700 years. Only recent attention on northern Mali – including a 2012 Jihadist occupation has disrupted the gentle routine built around five prayers a day and an annual “restoration week” that triggers a DIY frenzy in the city’s homes.

 

“We have not had to do major patching up since 2006 when the Aga Khan’s restoration programme began,” says the Djinguereber muezzin, Mahamane Mahanmoudou. “But I can see some small cracks now. We will have to do some work this year,” says the 77-year-old, who is also mason-in-chief of the mosque.

 

Timbuktu has never, to anyone’s knowledge, been the capital of any country. But its history, coupled with the pleasing sound of its three syllables, have made it a megalopolis in the human imagination ever since Emperor Moussa I built Djinguereber after returning from Mecca in 1327.

 

Read and view more on The Guardian co UK

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Related posts at PBSJ Blog on Timbuktu and Mali:

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See also:

Mali: Earthen Architecture Programme — The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)

Djingarey Ber mosque, and to Djenné,

In 2004, the Historic Cities Programme began restoring the Great Mosque in Mopti, Mali. The restoration expanded to include sanitation, street paving, healthcare and other measures in the neighbouring Komoguel district. Since 2006, the Programme has extended its work to Timbuktu, where it has restored the Djingarey Ber mosque, and to Djenné, where it has also started restoration on the Great Mosque. The programmes in each town are expected to expand into adjacent quarters. In addition, the Programme has worked with the government to create the National Park of Mali on a 103-hectare site in Bamako, the nation’s capital.

By about 300 A.D., camel caravan routes had been established throughout West Africa, linking West African cities with Europe and the Middle East. Timbuktu, Gao and Djenné – all major cities along the West African routes – became important cultural, as well as trading, centres. In major cities, schools and universities were endowed and vast libraries were built.

This important legacy had been in decline for many years. Beginning in 2004, under a public-private partnership, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) began working to revitalise the centres of three cities in Mali.  AKTC started with the restoration of the Great Mosques of Djenné and Mopti and the Djingereyber Mosque in Timbuktu, as well as the public spaces around them.

The mosque restorations became the most visible part of a multidisciplinary programme aimed at improving the quality of life in the cities. These efforts included the installation of new water and sanitation systems, street paving, early childhood education, training, health care and economic development.

 

Read more on http://www.akdn.org/hcp/mali.asp

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