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Wonders: Great Mosque of Djenne


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Photo: the Great Mosque of Djenne The current Great Mosque of Djenne, although a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the great architectural wonders of Africa, is not the original mosque of Djenne. The first Great Mosque of Djenne was built in the 13th century by Koy Konboro -- Djenne's first Islamicized ruler. As a vivid expression of his new-found faith, Koy Konboro had his palace destroyed, and the first Great Mosque built in its place. For six centuries, this massive mosque, comparable in size to the current Great Mosque, dominated the center of the town. By the 19th century, however, political and ideological conflicts within the Inland Delta caused the abandonment of the old mosque, which fell into ruin, in favor of a more modest mosque identified with the fundamentalist Islamic warrior-king Cheikou Amadou and his influence over the town (built 1835). Photos, and even postcards, exist showing Djenne's first Great Mosque in ruins. However, in 1906-1907 the current Great Mosque of Djenne was built on the site of the first Great Mosque in the monumental Sudanic style and has ever since remained the visual symbol of the town. The current Great Mosque of Djenne stands with all but its western side well-removed from neighboring structures at the center of the town's marketplace. Beside it are monumental tombs of great Islamic scholars, including one of a former imam of Djenne who died in 1724.

By K.C MacDonald

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