Unique mosque in historic Burkina Faso city retains its authenticity

Unique mosque in historic Burkina Faso city
Bobo Dioulasso Grand Mosque / Geri, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Unique mosque in historic Burkina Faso city: Terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso began in 2015, triggering a security crisis that has had far-reaching effects on the nation’s economy and way of life. The town of Bobo-Dioulasso, which has a rich history dating back to the 15th century, has seen a dramatic decline in tourism.

Historic and stunning, the Grand Mosque has been a popular stop for sightseers from all over the globe, including the Americas, Europe, and Asia, since its construction in the 1800s. Nevertheless, according to Siaka Sanou, the Hauts Bassins region’s Director of Arts and Tourism, there have been fewer tourists in recent years for a number of reasons.

The biggest issue that has affected tourism for a long time is insecurity. A number of attacks have occurred in Burkina Faso since the 2014 uprising, he adds, and this has discouraged tourists from going there.

The mosque represents a rich cultural history, built from Banko—a combination of terracotta, clay, fine sand, and organic components. The town’s historic core, including the mosque, became a must-see for travelers in 2012 when it was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List.

Guide Zakaria Sanou at the mosque remembers a time when they had a lot of visitors, particularly on holidays, and how that changed. Every day, we could get 25–50 customers. But these days, going weeks or months without seeing one is the norm.

The government’s response to this problem has been to promote domestic tourism, especially among students and schoolchildren. According to Sanou, “The ‘Do you know my beautiful country’ campaign aims to inspire the younger generation to explore their country’s cultural heritage.”

“We have managed to maintain visitation rates to the mosque with domestic tourists, actively involving students, schoolchildren, and workers to ensure the site remains visible,” according to him.

The mosque spent more than $500 million on restoration efforts in 2019. Domestic tourism is crucial to the restoration of the city’s architectural gems because of the local setting. In addition to protecting historical artifacts, this program brings people of all faiths and backgrounds closer together.

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