Djenné, on the Bani river is one of the most ancient town of Western Africa. It is famous for it’s banco Mosque and for it’s Monday market. It’s a wonderful place to shoot, even if people don’t really appreciate being photographed.
The town of Djenné sits on an Island, in the Bani River in central Mali, about 500kms northeast of Bamako. It is one of sub-Saharian Africa’s oldest cities. In former times, the town thrived because of its direct connection by the river with Timbuktu and from its situation at the head of the trades routes leading to gold and salt mines. Djenné was also known as a center of Islamic culture and pilgrimage.
Nowadays it is famous for it’s banco mosque, the world’s largest mud building. The Mosque itself is barely a century old, and needs refurbishment with mud every year as a matter of ceremony. As a non-Muslim, I was very disappointed by not being able to visit it, but we climbed on a terraced roof of a house with our guide, and we were able to admire it.
It is not allowed to built a house with concrete, one scan use only mud. In 1988, the old town of Djenné and it’s great Mosque were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mud is also used for clothing : Bogolan, the traditional Malian tissue is dyed with mud and plants.
If you go to Djenné, don’t miss the market which take place every Monday in front of the Mosque : cattle, méat, fishes, vegetables, rice, goods, bananas donuts, Chinese objects, expired drugs, one find everything on the market. Capture images of the crowd , but be quick, because people don’t really appreciate to be photographed, and if a lady doesn’t agree to be photographed, take a pic of her shoe !
There is only one place to stay for tourists : La Campement, just 400 meters to the right standing in front of the Mosque. But the rooms have no windows and therefore, it is better to take to tent and stay on the roof, as we did. The restaurant is good, and people are chic !