The Ancient City of Djenne in Mali

The Ancient City of Djenne in Mali

Mali is one of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are predominantly occupied by Muslims. Djenne city is located in Mali, and it is the oldest known city founded by Soninke merchandise in the year between 850 and 1200 A.D. Precisely, the city is situated in the flood lands of river Niger and Bani. In 1468, the Songhai emperor Sonni Ali captured Djenne and developed it into a trading center. The city was significantly used as a trading post by the communities from the Western and Central Sudan and also from Guinea. Besides, the city was linked by another busy trading city of Timbuktu. According to the historians, the ancient city of Djenne was a center of Islamic learning and it attracted students from different parts of the region.

On the other hand, Djenne city significantly influenced the culture of the region. The Great Mosque was an epicenter of the cultural life, religion and the community of Djenne. The people of Djenne had an active role in maintaining the mosque, and it was usually done in a unique way during the annual festival (Cotter, 2012). Precisely, the festival was referred to as plastering of the mosque. Djenne attracted pilgrims and students from the West Africa region since it was a center of Islamic learning and pilgrimage. The culture of the people developed around the city, and it was possible for them to learn different cultures through interaction. However, the Great Mosque of Djenne was built using the local materials such as palm wood and mud to incorporate and maintain the traditional architectural style (Cotter, 2012).

The Great Mosque and the houses in the ancient city of Djenne were typical African arts. They were built around monumental mud-brick structures that entailed knowledge of the past. Similarly, the Great Mosque comprised of a two –story building with a grand entrance, and it raised splendor. The houses were decorated with bundles of palm sticks that project out approximately 60 cm. The walls are protected from rainwater by the ceramic pipes. It was the tradition of the community to re-plaster the houses to avoid severe damages.



Cotter, H. (2012, April 18). A Tribute to Islam, earthen but transcendent. The New York Times. Retrived from

Places of Peace and Power. (n.d). Djenne, Mali. Retrived from

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