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Traditional House, Oualata

Traditional House, Oualata

Traditional japanese house

Traditional houses are specifically designed for the environment,culture, and resources on hand. For example Indians houses are small, light and made of hide. so they can move easily with the nomadic tribes. A traditional Japanese house is no exception with different types of walls that have the ability to move to any configuration, and floors made of soft bamboo.

The first adaptation that you will knowtice is that the entrence is lower than the rest of the house this is caled a genkan ware you take off your shews. comonly theres a cabnet that stoors shews.

the next adaptation is the floors in the rooms are made of the titami mats. titami mats are made from rice straw. these soft floors are only in the rooms and not in the hallways.

The hallways are comonly on the outside of the house and these are called engawas. Enawas seperate shoji and amado (i will get to those things later). this hallway can veary betwen being very narow to as large as an wrap-around veranda.

The Amado is a door shuder for storms. It goes on the outside of the engwas.

Shoji is the panal that make up the doors and atachaes the rooms to the engawas. theas are light whate panals that slide.

General Layout of Siheyuan

Although there's a difference between northern and southern courtyards, their essential characteristics are almost the same. In a courtyard compound there will be an open yard, or more than one, surrounded by single-story rooms.

Siheyuan construction is always symmetrical. The main house is on the central north-south axis, and the less-important structures are positioned on the west and east sides.

Normally, a siheyuan will contain three courtyards, while smaller versions might have only one courtyard and larger versions might have as many as five courtyards. Below is the general layout of siheyuan.

  • 大门:Front gate, a siheyuan only has one front gate, with scale depending on the status and wealth of its owner. Normally, a richer owner's siheyuan would have a larger front gate with more exquisite ornaments on the wooden door, and almost always protected by two stone lions. In wealthy homes, there would even be a gatekeeper's room next to the gate.
  • 影壁:A spirit screen, also called a spirit wall, is a shield construction that can be either positioned on the outside or the inside of the gate in traditional Chinese architecture. Its function is to protect the front gate.
  • 倒座房:A reverse-facing room, beside the front gate. Since the reverse-facing rooms faced north, with poor lighting, they usually served as servants' rooms.
  • 二门/垂花门:Ermen/Chuihuamen, literally meaning second gate or flower-hung gate in Chinese. This is an inner gate separating the first from the second courtyard. Across from the Ermen are the private quarters of a family. The decorations on the Chuihuamen usually indicate the status of the family head.
  • 厢房:Xiangfang are also called side houses. The Chinese traditionally thought that the eastern xiangfang were better than the western xiangfang in respect of fengshui (invisible forces). The eastern xiangfang are usually used as married sons' accommodation. Western xiangfang are usually unmarried daughters' rooms or kitchens.
  • 正房:The main house of the siheyuan is normally positioned along the north-south and west-east axes. The house faces south and is regarded as the best house in a siheyuan complex, since it has shelter from the wind and also has good lighting. It usually served as elders' accommodation.
  • 耳房:Erfang, literally meaning ears' rooms. They are so called because the two rooms on either side of the main house are like ears. Erfang were used as children's or servants' quarters, and storage or cooking rooms.
  • 后罩房:Houzhaofang only exist in those siheyuan with more than three courtyards. Since the houzhaofang are located at the back of the siheyuan and have private space, they are usually used as unmarried daughters' or female servants' rooms.


Tongkonan have a distinguishing boat-shaped and oversized saddleback roof. Like most of Indonesia's Austronesian-based traditional architecture, tongkonan are built on piles. The construction of tongkonan is laborious work and it is usually built with the help of all family members or friends. In the original Toraja society, only nobles had the right to build tongkonan. Commoners live in smaller and less decorated homes called banua.

The word 'Tongkonan' is derived from the Toraja word tongkon (‘to sit’) and literally means the place where family members meet.

According to the Torajan myth, the first tongkonan house was built in heaven by Puang Matua, the Creator. When the first Torajan ancestor descended to earth, he imitated the heavenly house and held a big ceremony. An alternative legend, describes the Toraja arriving from the north by boats, but caught in a fierce storm, their boats were so badly damaged that they used them as roofs for their new houses.

There are three types of tongkonan. Tongkonan layuk is the house of the highest authority and it is used as the center of government. The second type is tongkonan pekamberan, which belongs to the family group members, who have some authorities in local traditions (known as adat). The last one is tongkonan batu, which belongs to the ordinary family members.


The history of West Africa can be divided into five major periods: first, its prehistory, in which the first human settlers arrived, developed agriculture, and made contact with peoples to the north the second, the Iron Age empires that consolidated both intra-Africa, and extra-Africa trade, and developed centralized states third, major polities flourished, which would undergo an extensive history of contact with non-Africans fourth, the colonial period, in which Great Britain and France controlled nearly the entire region and fifth, the post-independence era, in which the current nations were formed.

Prehistory Edit

Acheulean tool-using archaic humans may have dwelled throughout West Africa since at least between 780,000 BP and 126,000 BP (Middle Pleistocene). [9] During the Pleistocene, Middle Stone Age peoples (e.g., Iwo Eleru people, [10] possibly Aterians), who dwelled throughout West Africa between MIS 4 and MIS 2, [11] were gradually replaced by incoming Late Stone Age peoples, who migrated into West Africa [12] as an increase in humid conditions resulted in the subsequent expansion of the West African forest. [13] West African hunter-gatherers occupied western Central Africa (e.g., Shum Laka) earlier than 32,000 BP, [10] dwelled throughout coastal West Africa by 12,000 BP, [14] and migrated northward between 12,000 BP and 8000 BP as far as Mali, Burkina Faso, [14] and Mauritania. [15]

During the Holocene, Niger-Congo speakers independently created pottery in Ounjougou, Mali [16] [17] – the earliest pottery in Africa [18] – by at least 9400 BCE, [16] and along with their pottery, [18] as well as wielding bows and arrows, [19] migrated into the Central Sahara, [18] which became their primary region of residence by 10,000 BP. [19] The emergence and expansion of ceramics in the Sahara may be linked with the origin of Round Head and Kel Essuf rock art, which occupy rockshelters in the same regions (e.g., Djado, Acacus, Tadrart). [20] Hunters in the Central Sahara farmed, stored, and cooked untamed central Saharan flora as well as tamed and shepherded Barbary sheep. [21] After the Kel Essuf Period and Round Head Period of the Central Sahara, the Pastoral Period followed. [22] Some of the hunter-gatherers who created the Round Head rock art may have adopted pastoral culture, and others may have not. [23] As a result of increasing aridification of the Green Sahara, Central Saharan hunter-gatherers and cattle herders may have used seasonal waterways as the migratory route taken to the Niger River and Chad Basin of West Africa. [24] Migration of Saharan peoples south of the Sahelian region resulted in seasonal interaction with and gradual absorption of West African hunter-gatherers, who primarily dwelt in the savannas and forests of West Africa. [14] After having persisted as late as 1000 BP, [14] or some period of time after 1500 CE, [25] remaining West African hunter-gatherers, many of whom dwelt in the forest-savanna region, were ultimately acculturated and admixed into the larger groups of West African agriculturalists, akin to the migratory Bantu agriculturalists and their encounters with Central African hunter-gatherers. [14]

Empires Edit

The development of the region's economy allowed more centralized states and civilizations to form, beginning with Dhar Tichitt that began in 1600 B.C. followed by Djenné-Djenno beginning in 300 B.C. This was then succeeded by the Ghana Empire that first flourished between the 9th and 12th centuries, which later gave way to the Mali Empire. In current-day Mauritania, there exist archaeological sites in the towns of Tichit and Oualata that were initially constructed around 2000 B.C., and were found to have originated from the Soninke branch of the Mandé peoples. Also, based on the archaeology of the city of Kumbi Saleh in modern-day Mauritania, the Mali empire came to dominate much of the region until its defeat by Almoravid invaders in 1052.

Three great kingdoms were identified in Bilad al-Sudan by the ninth century. They included Ghana, Gao and Kanem. [26]

The Sosso Empire sought to fill the void but was defeated (c. 1240) by the Mandinka forces of Sundiata Keita, founder of the new Mali Empire. The Mali Empire continued to flourish for several centuries, most particularly under Sundiata's grandnephew Musa I, before a succession of weak rulers led to its collapse under Mossi, Tuareg and Songhai invaders. In the 15th century, the Songhai would form a new dominant state based on Gao, in the Songhai Empire, under the leadership of Sonni Ali and Askia Mohammed.

Meanwhile, south of the Sudan, strong city-states arose in Igboland, such as the 10th-century Kingdom of Nri, which helped birth the arts and customs of the Igbo people, Bono State in the 11th century, which gave birth to the numerous Akan States, while Ife rose to prominence around the 14th century. Further east, Oyo arose as the dominant Yoruba state and the Aro Confederacy as a dominant Igbo state in modern-day Nigeria.

The Kingdom of Nri was a West African medieval state in present-day southeastern Nigeria and a subgroup of the Igbo people. The Kingdom of Nri was unusual in the history of world government in that its leader exercised no military power over his subjects. The kingdom existed as a sphere of religious and political influence over a third of Igboland and was administered by a priest-king called as an Eze Nri. The Eze Nri managed trade and diplomacy on behalf of the Nri people and possessed divine authority in religious matters.

The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire of what is today Western and North central Nigeria. Established in the 15th century, the Oyo Empire grew to become one of the largest West African states. It rose through the outstanding organizational skills of the Yoruba, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry. The Oyo Empire was the most politically important state in the region from the mid-17th to the late 18th century, holding sway not only over most of the other kingdoms in Yorubaland, but also over nearby African states, notably the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey in the modern Republic of Benin to the west.

The Benin Empire was a post-classical empire located in what is now southern Nigeria. Its capital was Edo, now known as Benin City, Edo. It should not be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly called Dahomey. The Benin Empire was "one of the oldest and most highly developed states in the coastal hinterland of West Africa, dating perhaps to the eleventh century CE",. The Benin Empire was governed by a sovereign Emperor with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and a powerful council rich in resources, wealth, ancient science and technology with cities described as beautiful and large as Haarlem. "Olfert Dapper, a Dutch writer, describing Benin in his book Description of Africa (1668) ". Its craft was the most adored and treasured bronze casting in the history of Africa. It was annexed by the British Empire in 1897 during the invasion and scramble of Africa.

European contact and enslavement Edit

Portuguese traders began establishing settlements along the coast in 1445, followed by the French, English, Spanish, Danish and Dutch the African slave trade began not long after, which over the following centuries would debilitate the region's economy and population. [27] The slave trade also encouraged the formation of states such as the Bono State, Bambara Empire and Dahomey, whose economic activities include but not limited to exchanging slaves for European firearms. [28]

Colonialism Edit

In the early 19th century, a series of Fulani reformist jihads swept across Western Africa. The most notable include Usman dan Fodio's Fulani Empire, which replaced the Hausa city-states, Seku Amadu's Massina Empire, which defeated the Bambara, and El Hadj Umar Tall's Toucouleur Empire, which briefly conquered much of modern-day Mali.

However, the French and British continued to advance in the Scramble for Africa, subjugating kingdom after kingdom. With the fall of Samory Ture's new-founded Wassoulou Empire in 1898 and the Ashanti queen Yaa Asantewaa in 1902, most West African military resistance to colonial rule resulted in failure. Leaving, however, an effect on the development of the states.

Part of the West-African regions underwent an increase in the numeracy level throughout the 19th century. The reason for such a growth was predetermined by a number of factors. Namely, the peanut production and trade, which was boosted by the demand of the colonial states. Importantly, the rise of the numeracy was higher in the regions which were less hierarchical and had less dependent from the slavery trade (e.g. Sine and Salum). Whereas areas with the opposite trends illustrated opposite tendencies (e.g. central and northern Senegal). Those patterns were further even more stimulated with the French colonial campaign. [29]

Britain controlled the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria throughout the colonial era, while France unified Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Niger into French West Africa. Portugal founded the colony of Guinea-Bissau, while Germany claimed Togoland, but was forced to divide it between France and Britain following First World War due to the Treaty of Versailles. Only Liberia retained its independence, at the price of major territorial concessions.

Postcolonial eras Edit

Following World War II, nationalist movements arose across West Africa. In 1957, Ghana, under Kwame Nkrumah, became the first sub-Saharan colony to achieve its independence, followed the next year by France's colonies (Guinea in 1958 under the leadership of President Ahmed Sekou Touré) by 1974, West Africa's nations were entirely autonomous.

Since independence, many West African nations have been submerged under political instability, with notable civil wars in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast, and a succession of military coups in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Since the end of colonialism, the region has been the stage for some brutal conflicts, including:

The Economic Community of West African States, established in May 1975, has defined the region of West Africa since 1999 as including the following 15 states: [8]

* Benin * Burkina Faso * Cape Verde * Ivory Coast * The Gambia * Ghana * Guinea * Guinea-Bissau * Liberia * Mali * Niger * Nigeria * Senegal * Sierra Leone * Togo

Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Western Africa includes the preceding states with the addition of Mauritania (which withdrew from ECOWAS in 1999), comprising an area of approximately 6.1 million square km. [30] The UN region also includes the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic Ocean. [31]

Area Edit

In the United Nations scheme of African regions, the region of Western Africa includes 16 states and the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha: [32] Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and the Niger are mostly in the Sahel, a transition zone between the Sahara desert and the Sudanian Savanna Benin, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria compose most of Guinea, the traditional name for the area near the Gulf of Guinea Mauritania lies in the Maghreb, the northwestern region of Africa that has historically been inhabited by West African groups such as the Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, Serer and Toucouleur people, [33] along with Arab-Berber Maghrebi people such as the Tuareg Cape Verde is an island country in the Atlantic Ocean and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha consists of eight main islands located in four different parts of the Atlantic. Due to Mauritania's increasingly close ties to the Arab World and its 1999 withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in modern times it is often considered, especially in Africa, as now part of western North Africa. [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39]

List of countries Edit

Major cities in West Africa include:

Nature Edit

Before European colonisation, West African countries such as those from the Senegambia region (Senegal and the Gambia) used to have a diverse wildlife including lions, hippopotamus, elephants, antelopes, leopards etc. [40] However, during colonization, the European colonizers such as the French and British killed most of the wildlife particularly the lions–using their body parts as trophies. By the turn of the 20th-century, the Senegambia region lost most of its lion population and other exotic animals due to poaching. By the 1930s, the Gambian elephant population became extinct. That phenomenon was not only limited to the Senegambia region but affected much of West African as the region lost much of its "natural resources once tied so closely to its cultural identity. Poaching has stolen most of its wildlife." The British issued poaching licenses, and although they would later try to reverse the damage that had been done by attempting to preserve what was left of the local wildlife, but by that time, it was too late. [41] [42] During the 1930s, the elephant population in the Gold Coast was about 300, and Sierra Leona between 500 and 600. Although a small number of elephants survived in Nigeria, hunting, agricultural expansion and clearing of forest in that country drastically affected its wildlife population, particularly elephants. [42]

Despite the historical damage that has been done to the region's wildlife populations, there are still some protected nature reserves within the region. Some of these include:

  1. The Bandia Nature Reserve in Senegal (French: Réserve de Bandia), animal life includes: giraffes, zebras, rhinos, a variety of antelopes, buffaloes, monkeys, crocodiles, tortoises. apes and a variety of exotic birds. [43]
  2. The Yankari National Park in Nigeria, animal life includes: the African bush elephant, olive baboon, patas monkey, Tantalus monkey, roan antelope, western hartebeest, West African lion, African buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck and hippopotamus. [44]
  3. The Ankasa Conservation Area in Ghana, animal life includes: the elephant, bongo, leopard, chimpanzee, Diana monkey, and other primates. [45]

West Africa is also home to several baobab trees and other plant life. Some baobab trees are several centuries old and form part of the local folklore, for example, a mythical baobab tree named Ngoye njuli in Senegal which is regarded as a sacred site by the Serer. The tree itself is rather majestic and looks like a huge phallus and a deformed animal or thing is protruding from it. It is said to be the dwelling place of a pangool. Ngoye njuli is protected by the Senegalese authorities and attracts visitors. In West Africa, as in other parts of Africa where the baobab tree is found, the leaves are mixed with couscous and eaten, the bark of the tree is used to make ropes, and the fruit and seeds used for drinks and oils. [41] [46] [47]

Deforestation Edit

West Africa is greatly affected by deforestation, and has one of worst deforestation rate. [48] Even "the beloved baobab tree" which is viewed as sacred by some West African cultures are under threat due to climate change, urbanization and population growth. "Huge swaths of forest are being razed to clear space for palm oil and cocoa plantations. Mangroves are being killed off by pollution. Even wispy acacias are hacked away for use in cooking fires to feed growing families." [41] Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, have lost large areas of their rainforest. [49] [50] In 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ranked Nigeria as the state with the worst deforestation rate in the entire world. Causes include logging, subsistence agriculture, and the collection of fuelwood. [51]

According to a ThoughtCo publication authored Steve Nix (2018), almost 90 percent of West Africa's original rainforest has been destroyed, and the rest "heavily fragmented and in a degraded state, being poorly used." [48]

Overfishing Edit

Overfishing is a major issue in West Africa. Besides reducing fish stocks in the region, it also threatens food security and the livelihoods of many coastal communities who largely depend on artisanal fishing. The overfishing generally comes from foreign trawlers operating in the region. [52]

To combat the overfishing, Greenpeace has recommended countries reduce the number of registered trawlers operating in African waters, increase the monitoring and control and set up regional fisheries organizations. Some steps have already been taken in the form of WARFP (the World Bank's West Africa Regional Fisheries Program which empowers west-African countries (i.e. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, and Senegal) with information, training and monitoring systems. Furthermore, Liberia enacted a fisheries regulations Act in 2010 and installed a satellite-based monitoring system and Senegal enacted a fisheries code in 2015. In Cape Verde, the fishermen communities of Palmiera and Santa Maria have organized themselves to protect fishing zones. Mozambique finally created a conservation area, including a coastline. [53] [54]

Geography and climate Edit

West Africa, broadly defined to include the western portion of the Maghreb (Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), occupies an area in excess of 6,140,000 km 2 , or approximately one-fifth of Africa. The vast majority of this land is plains lying less than 300 meters above sea level, though isolated high points exist in numerous states along the southern shore of West Africa. [55]

The northern section of West Africa (narrowly defined to exclude the western Maghreb) is composed of semi-arid terrain known as Sahel, a transitional zone between the Sahara and the West Sudanian savanna. Forests form a belt between the savannas and the southern coast, ranging from 160 km to 240 km in width. [56]

The northwest African region of Mauritania periodically suffers country-wide plagues of locusts which consume water, salt and crops on which the human population relies. [57]

Background Edit

West Africa is west of an imagined north–south axis lying close to 10° east longitude. [55] The Atlantic Ocean forms the western as well as the southern borders of the West African region. [55] The northern border is the Sahara Desert, with the Ranishanu Bend generally considered the northernmost part of the region. [58] The eastern border is less precise, with some placing it at the Benue Trough, and others on a line running from Mount Cameroon to Lake Chad.

Colonial boundaries are reflected in the modern boundaries between contemporary West African states, cutting across ethnic and cultural lines, often dividing single ethnic groups between two or more states. [59]

In contrast to most of Central, Southern, and Southeast Africa, West Africa is not populated by Bantu-speaking peoples. [60]

Rail transport Edit

A Trans-ECOWAS project, established in 2007, plans to upgrade railways in this zone. One of the goals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is the development of an integrated railroad network. [61] Aims include the extension of railways in member countries, the interconnection of previously isolated railways and the standardization of gauge, brakes, couplings, and other parameters. The first line would connect the cities and ports of Lagos, Cotonou, Lomé and Accra and would allow the largest container ships to focus on a smaller number of large ports, while efficiently serving a larger hinterland. This line connects 3 ft 6 in ( 1,067 mm ) gauge and 1,000 mm ( 3 ft 3 + 3 ⁄ 8 in ) metre gauge systems, which would require four rail dual gauge, which can also provide standard gauge. [61]

Road transport Edit

The Trans–West African Coastal Highway is a transnational highway project to link 12 West African coastal states, from Mauritania in the north-west of the region to Nigeria in the east, with feeder roads already existing to two landlocked countries, Mali and Burkina Faso. [62]

The eastern end of the highway terminates at Lagos, Nigeria. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consider its western end to be Nouakchott, Mauritania, or to be Dakar, Senegal, giving rise to these alternative names for the road:

  • Nouakchott–Lagos Highway
  • Lagos–Nouakchott Highway
  • Dakar–Lagos Highway
  • Lagos–Dakar Highway
  • Trans-African Highway 7 in the Trans-African Highway network

Air transport Edit

The capitals' airports include:

    (COO) International Cotonou, Benin (OUA) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (SID) Praia, Cape Verde (BJL) International Banjul, Gambia (ACC) Accra Ghana (CKY) Conakry, Guinea (OXB) Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (ABJ) Abidjan, Ivory Coast (ROB) Monrovia, Liberia (BKO) Bamako, Mali (NIM) Niamey, Niger (LOS) Lagos, Nigeria Jamestown, Saint Helena (DSS) Dakar, Senegal (FNA) Freetown, Sierra Leone (LFW) Lomé, Togo

Of the sixteen, the most important hub and entry point to West Africa are Kotoka International Airport, and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, offering many international connections.

Mental health problems are on the rise in West Africa, as they are in many other world regions. However, the subject is largely a taboo, and professional treatment is still rare. [63]

Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through to Senegal, there are general similarities in dress, cuisine, music and culture that are not shared extensively with groups outside the geographic region. This long history of cultural exchange predates the colonization era of the region and can be approximately placed at the time of the Ghana Empire (proper: Wagadou Empire), Mali Empire or perhaps before these empires.

Art Edit

Traditional architecture Edit

The main traditional styles of building (in conjunction with modern styles) are the distinct Sudano-Sahelian style in inland areas, and the coastal forest styles more reminiscent of other sub-Saharan areas. They differ greatly in construction due to the demands made by the variety of climates in the area, from tropical humid forests to arid grasslands and deserts. Despite the architectural differences, buildings perform similar functions, including the compound structure central to West African family life or strict distinction between the private and public worlds needed to maintain taboos or social etiquette.

Clothing Edit

In contrast to other parts of the continent south of the Sahara Desert, the concepts of hemming and embroidering clothing have been traditionally common to West Africa for centuries, demonstrated by the production of various breeches, shirts, tunics and jackets. As a result, the peoples of the region's diverse nations wear a wide variety of clothing with underlying similarities. Typical pieces of west African formal attire include the knee-to-ankle-length, flowing Boubou robe, Dashiki, and Senegalese Kaftan (also known as Agbada and Babariga), which has its origins in the clothing of nobility of various West African empires in the 12th century. Traditional half-sleeved, hip-long, woven smocks or tunics (known as fugu in Gurunsi, riga in Hausa) – worn over a pair of baggy trousers—is another popular garment. [64] In the coastal regions stretching from southern Ivory Coast to Benin, a huge rectangular cloth is wrapped under one arm, draped over a shoulder, and held in one of the wearer's hands—coincidentally, reminiscent of Romans' togas. The best-known of these toga-like garments is the Kente (made by the Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast), who wear them as a gesture of national pride.

Cuisine Edit

Scores of foreign visitors to West African nations (e.g., traders, historians, emigrants, colonists, missionaries) have benefited from its citizens' generosity, and even left with a piece of its cultural heritage, via its foods. West African cuisines have had a significant influence on those of Western civilization for centuries several dishes of West African origin are currently enjoyed in the Caribbean (e.g., the West Indies and Haiti) Australia the USA (particularly Louisiana, Virginia, North and South Carolina) Italy and other countries. Although some of these recipes have been altered to suit the sensibilities of their adopters, they retain a distinct West African essence. [65]

West Africans cuisines include fish (especially among the coastal areas), meat, vegetables, and fruits—most of which are grown by the nations' local farmers. In spite of the obvious differences among the various local cuisines in this multinational region, the foods display more similarities than differences. The small difference may be in the ingredients used. Most foods are cooked via boiling or frying. Commonly featured, starchy vegetables include yams, plantains, cassava, and sweet potatoes. [66] Rice is also a staple food, as is the Serer people's sorghum couscous (called " Chereh " in Serer) particularly in Senegal and the Gambia. [67] Jollof rice—originally from the Kingdom of Jolof (now part of modern-day Senegal) but has spread to the Wolofs of Gambia—is also enjoyed in many Western nations, as well [68] Mafé (proper: " Tigh-dege-na " or Domodah) from Mali (via the Bambara and Mandinka) [69] —a peanut-butter stew served with rice [70] [71] Akara (fried bean balls seasoned with spices served with sauce and bread) from Nigeria is a favorite breakfast for Gambians and Senegalese, as well as a favorite side snack or side dish in Brazil and the Caribbean just as it is in West Africa. It is said that its exact origin may be from Yorubaland in Nigeria. [72] [73] Fufu (from the Twi language, a dough served with a spicy stew or sauce for example okra stew etc.) from Ghana is enjoyed throughout the region and beyond even in Central Africa with their own versions of it. [74] Dishes such as taguella, eghajira, etc. are popular among the Tuareg people. [75]

Recreation and sports Edit

The board game oware is quite popular in many parts of Southern

Africa. The word "Oware" originates from the Akan people of Ghana. However, virtually all African peoples have a version of this board game. [76] The major multi-sport event of West Africa is the ECOWAS Games which commenced at the 2012 ECOWAS Games. Football is also a pastime enjoyed by many, either spectating or playing. The major national teams of West Africa, the Ghana national football team, the Ivory Coast national football team, and the Nigeria national football team regularly win the Africa Cup of Nations. [77] Major football teams of West Africa are Asante Kotoko SC and Accra Hearts of Oak SC of the Ghana Premier League, Enyimba International of the Nigerian Premier League and ASEC Mimosas of the Ligue 1 (Ivory Coast). The football governing body of West Africa is the West African Football Union (WAFU) and the major tournament is the West African Club Championship and WAFU Nations Cup, along with the annual individual award of West African Footballer of the Year. [78] [79]

Music Edit

Mbalax, Highlife, Fuji, Afrobeat, and Afrobeats are modern musical genres of West Africa and its diaspora. Traditional folk music is also well-preserved. Some types of folk music are religious in nature such as the "Tassou" tradition used in Serer religion. [80]

Griot artists Edit

Griot artists and praise-singing is an important musical tradition related to the oral history of West African culture. Traditionally, musical and oral history as conveyed over generations by griots are typical of West African culture in Mande, Wolof, Songhay, Serer and, to some extent, Fula areas in the far west. A hereditary caste occupying the fringes of society, the griots were charged with memorizing the histories of local rulers and personages and the caste was further broken down into music-playing griots (similar to bards) and non-music playing griots. Like Praise-singers, the griot's main profession was musical acquisition and prowess, and patrons were the sole means of financial support. Modern griots enjoy higher status in the patronage of rich individuals in places such as Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea, and to some extent make up the vast majority of musicians in these countries. Examples of modern popular griot artists include Salif Keita, Youssou N'Dour, Mamadou Diabate, Rokia Traore and Toumani Diabate.

In other areas of West Africa, primarily among the Hausa, Mossi, Dagomba and Yoruba in the area encompassing Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, Nigeria and Niger, the traditional profession of non-hereditary praise-singers, minstrels, bards and poets play a vital role in extending the public show of power, lineage and prestige of traditional rulers through their exclusive patronage. Like the griot tradition, praise singers are charged with knowing the details of specific historical events and royal lineages, but more importantly need to be capable of poetic improvisation and creativity, with knowledge of traditional songs directed towards showing a patron's financial and political or religious power. Competition between Praise-singing ensembles and artistes are high, and artists responsible for any extraordinarily skilled prose, musical compositions, and panegyric songs are lavishly rewarded with money, clothing, provisions and other luxuries by patrons who are usually politicians, rulers, Islamic clerics and merchants these successful praise-singers rise to national stardom. Examples include Mamman Shata, Souley Konko, Fati Niger, Saadou Bori and Dan Maraya. In the case of Niger, numerous praise songs are composed and shown on television in praise of local rulers, Islamic clerics, and politicians.

Theatre Edit

Film industry Edit

Nollywood of Nigeria, is the main film industry of West Africa. The Nigerian cinema industry is the second largest film industry in terms of number of annual film productions, ahead of the American film industry in Hollywood. [81] Senegal and Ghana also have long traditions of producing films. The late Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese film director, producer and writer is from the region, as is the Ghanaian Shirley Frimpong-Manso.

Islam Edit

Islam is the predominant religion of the West African interior and the far west coast of the continent (60% of West Africans) and was introduced to the region by traders in the 9th century. Islam is the religion of the region's biggest ethnic groups by population. Islamic rules on livelihood, values, dress and practices had a profound effect on the populations and cultures in their predominant areas, so much so that the concept of tribalism is less observed by Islamized groups like the Mande, Wolof, Hausa, Fula, Songhai, Zarma or Soninke, than they are by non-Islamized groups. [82] Ethnic intermarriage and shared cultural icons are established through a superseded commonality of belief or community, known as ummah. [83] Traditional Muslim areas include Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Niger the upper coast and inland two-thirds of Sierra Leone and inland Liberia the western, northern and far-eastern regions of Burkina Faso and the northern halves of the coastal nations of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast. [84]

African traditional Edit

Traditional African religions (noting the many different belief systems) are the oldest belief systems among the populations of this region, and include Akan religion, Yoruba religion, Odinani, and Serer religion. They are spiritual but also linked to the historical and cultural heritage of the people. [85] Although traditional beliefs vary from one place to the next, there are more similarities than differences. [86]

Christianity Edit

In 2010 around 36.5% of Western Africans identified as Christians. [87] Christianity was largely introduced from the late 19th century onward, when missionaries from European countries brought the religion to the region. [88] West African Christians are predominantly Roman Catholic or Anglican some Evangelical churches have also been established. Christianity has become the predominant religion in the central and southern part of Nigeria, southern Ivory Coast, and the coastal regions stretching from southern Ghana to coastal parts of Sierra Leone. Like Islam, elements of traditional African religion are mixed with Christianity. [89]

West Africans primarily speak Niger–Congo languages, belonging mostly, though not exclusively, to its non-Bantu branches, though some Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic speaking groups are also found in West Africa. The Niger–Congo-speaking Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Akan and Wolof ethnic groups are the largest and most influential. The Tiv people found in Nigeria and partly in Cameroun are also among the largest. In the central Sahara, Mandinka or Mande groups are most significant. Chadic-speaking groups, including the Hausa, are found in more northerly parts of the region nearest to the Sahara, and Nilo-Saharan communities, such as the Songhai, Kanuri and Zarma, are found in the eastern parts of West Africa bordering Central Africa. The population of West Africa is estimated at 381 million [1] [2] people as of 2018. In Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, the nomadic Tuareg speak the Tuareg language, a Berber language.

Colonial languages also play a pivotal cultural and political role, being adopted as the official languages of most countries in the region, as well as linguae franca in communication between the region's various ethnic groups. For historical reasons, Western European languages such as French, English and Portuguese predominate in Southern and Coastal subregions, whilst Arabic (in its Maghrebi varieties) spreads inland northwards.

Further information in the sections of History of science and technology in Africa:

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), by the 1975 Treaty of Lagos, is an organization of West African states which aims to promote the region's economy. The West African Monetary Union (or UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is limited to the eight, mostly Francophone countries that employ the CFA franc as their common currency. The Liptako-Gourma Authority of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso seeks to jointly develop the contiguous areas of the three countries.

Women's peace movement Edit

Since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, women have been engaged in rebuilding war-torn Africa. Starting with the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace and Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), the peace movement has grown to include women across West Africa.

Established on May 8, 2006, Women Peace and Security Network – Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), is a women-focused, women-led Pan-African non-governmental organization based in Ghana. [90] The organization focuses on empowering women to have a role in political and peace governance in Africa. [90] It has a presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Regional leaders of nonviolent resistance include Leymah Gbowee, [91] Comfort Freeman, and Aya Virginie Toure.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a documentary film about the origin of this peace movement. The film has been used as an advocacy tool in post-conflict zones like Sudan and Zimbabwe, mobilizing African women to petition for peace and security. [92]


A new expedition through Mauritania, an itinerary which is the outcome of many years of research in this part of Sahara. The itinerary starts in Nouakchott, the capital and continues for a brief visit to the highlights in Chinguetti and Ouadane. Chinguetti has a magical atmosphere, one of the most well conserved oasis in the whole Sahara.

Ouadane was founded “just” in 1147 of our era. It is the remotest oasis in Mauritania and the western outpost before the total emptiness… Where we will continue.

Guelb er Richat is called by the geologist the “Eye of Africa”: a geological mystery, a series of three concentric rock circles, the largest one having a diameter of 40 kilometres (25 mi). The rarely visited El Ghallaouiya canyon hosts more than six hundred graffiti figures, depiction of warriors, chariots, hunters, wild animals, and more, a unique “open sky gallery” taking us back thousands of years at time before the desertification, when the desert was a green savannah. From the abandoned colonial time fort in El Ghallaouiya the real exploration starts: beyond the horizon, hundreds of kilometres of virgin sand and ranges of dunes. We will “navigate” along the immensity of Erg Ouarane. The only human traces that we will find the next days, will be prehistoric stone tools. We will partially try to retrace the oldest caravan route that linked North Africa with the Ghana Empire back in the sixth century.

Aoukar, a range of escarpments that create a spectacular landscape of dark mountains. The range divide the large dunes of Ouarane in the North from the Aoukar depression in the South. We will join a caravan route that dates back to the eleventh century linking Oualata with the western part of Mauritania to discover Makhrouga, one of the most spectacular rock erosions: nature has sculptured a rock massif in the shape of elephants. Some graffiti depicting an archaic Berber alphabet are witness of an ancient human presence.

Following the caravan route, we arrive to Oualata, Word Heritage Site and unique for the traditional frescoes that decorate the facades of the adobe houses. The colorful arabesques and geometric patterns exclusively made by the women, as in the rest of West Africa, make of Oualata a unique oasis.

A remote track will take us to the Aoudaghost archaeological site with miles of ruins hidden by the mountains. Aoudaghost was the northern town of the Ghana Empire, the oldest known Empire in Black Africa, dating back to the sixth century. It was a rich trading centre, where merchants coming from North Africa acquired gold dust. The Arab chroniclers described it in the manuscripts as beautiful as Mecca. We will explore paved alleys and remains of stone buildings. Only a few sites of Aoudaghost have been studied by French archaeologists in the early sixties, but today all trace of the excavations has been covered by sand and disappeared, and we will have the impression to be the first on the site. We leave Aoudaghost to discover Dogba, a large and mysterious stone town that has not been studied or excavated yet.

Out of any track we will arrive to deep caves hiding granaries, graffiti, and rock paints.
On the way to Nouakchott, we reach Kiffa, renowned for the traditional glass beads produced by Moorish women.

Arrival in Nouakchott. Transfer and overnight at hotel Azalai, four stars, international standards.

Day 2: ATAR
After the visit of the interesting Nouakchott museum that display costumes and archeological object from all the country will star a day of scenic drive north. The first part will be in a spectacular a landscape of dunes to reach finally the region of Adrar mountain and the town of Atar in the evening.
Dinner and overnight Hotel Etoile du Nord or similar comfortable self contain air-conditioned rooms.

Drive to Chinguetti and Ouadane. Chinguetti is an ancient caravan terminal and an important trading point between North and Black Africa.
The stone village at a cross point of different caravan routes dates back to the thirteenth century and is reckoned nowadays as the jewel of the Mauritanian oases.
In the old stone quarters, we will be invited to visit two ancient manuscript collections. The white stone mosque considered the second ancient, still operating in the world.
Ouadane, founded in 1147 on a rocky hill, is the remotest oasis in Mauritania, an outpost facing the immensity of the desert. Mainly in ruins, some of his stone houses are still inhabited. In the ancient days, Ouadane was a caravan trading point between the Maghreb and Black Africa.
Commerce was so flourishing that in 1487 the Portuguese built a fortified trading counter in the region.
Dinner and overnight at Agoueidir comfortable guest house, airconditioned and all ensuite rooms or similar.

Guelb er Richat, a geological mystery called by the geologists the “Eye of Africa” is a landmark for the astronauts. Three concentric rock rings around an interior hill, the largest ring having a diameter of 40 kilometres (25 ml). Geologists have formulated different hypothesis on the origins: the first is that the phenomena has been caused by an enormous meteorite that fell on earth. The more recent theory believes that it is the result of the erosion on a large volcanic dome. Camp in the desert.

Off-road itinerary between spectacular rock chains with an astonishing view on the desert and possible encounter with remote groups of nomads.
The canyon of Trig Chauail is an impressive spectacle: some flat surfaces of rock covered of petroglyphs. The region hides more than 220 panels with 600 different motives, a real “open sky” retrospective exhibition on the last 6000 years of Rock Art in the Sahara. From the time before the desertification, displaying warriors, horses pulling chariots, cattle, and wildlife as elephants and antelopes, to more recent times displaying camels (dromedaries) that arrived to the Sahara with the final desertification, approximately 2000 years ago. Camp at the abandoned fort of El Ghallaouiya, built by the French colonial “camel battalions”, it has the typical atmosphere of the foreign legion.

Days 6, 7, 8: IMMENSITY
Departure for the total emptiness. We will find our way out of any track through the immensity of Erg Ouarane: large more than 800 Kilometres of continue dunes and virgin sand over the horizon, a pure Sahara experience.
GPS, compass, local guide and years of experience, will help us to navigate through one of the less known part of Sahara, the largest desert on Earth, in its more perfect form, as only imagination can represent. Camps between the dunes.

The arrival to the Aoukar rocky chains is memorable. Aoukar mountain chains is as difficult as spectacular. It was the shore of a large lake, now vanished in the desert, and remains of numerous prehistorical villages are hidden between rocks and sand. In that humid period, the region was intensely inhabited. Some experts estimate that in the Neolithic the Aoukar was hosting a population of 400.000 inhabitants, being, at that time, one of the largest inhabited places.
Arrival to Oualata. Overnight in a guest house that will be our base for two nights.

Full day dedicated to Oualata, World Heritage Site and a unique and spectacular oasis dating back from the eleventh century. Hidden by rocky hills, it was an important southern Saharan caravan terminal.
Oualata traditions are still alive. What makes special the adobe architecture are the frescoes decorating the entrances (and the interior) of the houses. These frescoes are painted exclusively by women that from centuries have passed this technique from mother to daughter.
Women of different ethnic groups of the savannah in West Africa create complex frescoes often hiding symbolic meanings. Frescoes link the local Berber population with Black African female traditions.
We will visit the small museum that exhibits a collection of manuscripts.

Days 12, 13 and 14: ON THE WAY TO AOUDAGHOST
We leave Oualata following a track to join the road from Nema to Ayoun el Atrous. Then, we leave this road and follow a track towards northwest.
One of the main highlights of the itinerary is the archaeological site of Aoudaghost with its miles of ruins hidden in the mountains. Aoudaghost is believed to have been the northern trading town of the Ghana Empire, the oldest known empire of southern Sahara, dating back to the sixth century.
Aoudaghost was a rich caravan town being its more famous trade, gold dust. In ancient Islamic manuscripts it was described as great as Mecca. Only a few areas of Aoudaghost have been studied by archaeologists in the early ’60 but nowadays, the sand has covered any trace of the few excavations and there, we will have the impression to be the firsts on the sites after one thousands of years. Thanks to the remoteness of the place, these sites are rarely visited. We will discover in the area the mysterious remains of another stone town, Togba, totally unknown. A large detour to explore deep caves, a unique experience: thanks to ours torch light, we will discover prehistoric millstones, decorated granaries and more…

Day 15: KIFFA
Arrival to Kiffa, renowned for its traditional glass beads produced by Moorish women, and for the market with traders specialized in artisanal and ancient beads.
Overnight at the Hotel Emel or similar, air-conditioned and en-suite rooms basic but clean.

Days 16 and 17: THE ROAD OF HOPE
This asphalt road, known as “la route de l’espoir” (the road of hope), links south western Mauritania with the coast and the capital. Visit of villages and camel markets.
Day 16 – Overnight at a camp.
Day 17 – Overnight at Aleg in Hotel Oasis or similar, air-conditioned and en-suite rooms basic but clean.

Expected arrival in Nouakchott in the afternoon. Day-rooms available at Azalai Hotel, 4 stars. Transfer to the airport. End of our services.

EXPEDITION LEADER: Alberto Nicheli, TransAfrica founder, has been travelling in North and West Africa since 1972. He has led more than a hundred expeditions in West Africa and sixty-five Sahara missions, including solo crossing of the desert, ethnological research on Tuareg and rock art, exploratory expedition retracing ancient caravan routes between Taoudenni salt mines in Mali and Oualata in Mauritania. He has organized the logistics of a documentary film on the caravans in the Sahara for Discovery Channel, assisted National Geographic photographers Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith and organized the logistic of numerous research projects and television programs on West Africa. Alberto has an expertise in tribal art and ancient to contemporary West African history.

EXPLORATORY ITINERARY: This travel program is an exploratory expedition. The itinerary is designed to experience fascinating places where foreigners don’t or hardly arrive. Scheduled itinerary, visits, are given as an indication and could be changed at the solo decision of the expedition leader. Wind , visibility, ground conditions, local authorities’ decisions, events of “force majeure”, technical, mechanical or other unexpected events may delay or change our schedule. TransAfrica can’t be considered liable for any changes and delays.
Participants must be flexible to full experience unique encounters, discoveries, and astonishing landscapes as much as some unexpected situations that are part of the “African experience”.

TRANSPORTS: 4WD, air-conditioned vehicles and logistic pickup. Local sailing boat at Banc d’Arguin.

MEDICAL and VACCINATIONS: Malaria prophylaxis: recommended for the first and last part of the itinerary (From Nouakchott to Chinguetty and from Nema to Nouakchott).

VISA: required. Available at Nouakchott airport, on arrival (55 €).

MEALS: Lunches: cold meals, mainly picnics or in local restaurants.
Dinners: in the hotels: touristic menu.
At our mobile camps: simple but tasty hot dinners composed by fresh local products integrated by preserved food. Bottled mineral water included.
Please mention any diet prescription at the time of booking.

CAMPS: Camp in the immensity of Sahara is an unforgettable experience. Igloo tents fitted for tropical climate camping mattress included. Please bring your own sleeping-bag . Nights in the Sahara can be cold and windy.

LUGGAGE: Due to the nature of the itinerary, please limit your personal luggage to 45lb (20 kg), soft sacs are recommended.


The early history of Ouadane is uncertain but it is possible that the town prospered from the trans-Saharan gold trade. In the middle of the 11th century, the Arabic geographer al-Bakri described a trans-Saharan route that ran between Tamdoult near Akka in Morocco to Aoudaghost on the southern edge of the Sahara. [2] This route was used for the transport of gold during the time of the Ghana Empire. In his account al-Bakri mentioned a series of place names but these have not been identified and historians have suggested several possible routes. In 1961 the French historian Raymond Mauny proposed a route that passed through Ouadane [3] but Suzanne Daveau later argued in favour of a more direct route that crossed the Adrar escarpment to the east of the town. [4] The volume of caravan traffic would have declined from the beginning of the 13th century when the oasis town of Oualata located 360 km to the east replaced Aoudaghost as the southern terminus of the trade route. [5]

The first written reference to the town is in Portuguese by Ca' de Mosto in middle of the 15th century in a muddled account that confused the salt mines of Idjil with those of Taghaza. [6] At about the same date Gomes Eanes de Zurara described Ouadane as the most important town of the Adrar region and the only one with a surrounding wall. [7] Fifty years later Valentim Fernandes wrote a detailed account of the trade in slabs of salt from the Idjil mines and role of Ouadane as an entrepôt. [8] He described Ouadane as a 'town' with a population of 400 inhabitants. [9] By contrast Duarte Pacheco Pereira in his Esmeraldo de situ orbis (written in 1505-1508) described the town as having approximately "300 hearths" which would suggest between 1,500 and 1,800 people. [10] The Idjil sebkha lies roughly 240 km northwest of Ouadane, to the west of the town of Fderîck. [11] The date when salt was first extracted from the sebkha is unknown. It is usually assumed that exploitation of the Idjil mines began after the mid 11th century as al-Bakri did not mention them. Instead he described a salt mine at a place that he called 'Tatantal'. [12] Historians have usually assumed this corresponds to Tegahza but his description could possibly also apply to the mines at Idjil. [13]

According to Pereira, in 1487 the Portuguese built an entrepôt in Ouadane in an attempt to gain access to the trans-Saharan gold, salt and slave trade. [14] The entrepôt was probably short lived and is not mentioned in the detailed description provided by Fernandes. [15]

In the 16th century the Moroccans made various attempts to take control of the trans-Saharan trade in salt and especially that in gold from the Sudan. They organised military expeditions to occupy Ouadane in 1543-44 and again in 1584. Then in 1585 they occupied Taghaza and finally in 1591 their victory in the battle of Battle of Tondibi led to the collapse of the Songhay Empire. [16]

Tegherbeyat, the upper ruined section of the town, is almost certainly the oldest. It would have originally contained a mosque but nothing has survived. The ruins of the lower section of the town include a mosque that was probably built in the 15th century when the town expanded. Some of the horseshoe arches are still standing and some walls still have the remains of clay plaster, suggesting that the mosque was abandoned sometime in the 19th century. [17]

The mosque measured 24 m north–south at its eastern end and 17 m north–south at its western end where the minaret would have stood. From east to west it would have measured 15 m. The terrace was supported by five rows of horseshoe arches. At the eastern end are the remains of an external mirhab and a courtyard measuring 13 by 12 meters that would have been used in hot weather. [18]

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The 20th Century History of Ireland Galleries will exhibit objects that have been continuously collected on behalf of the Irish people since before the foundation of the state up to the present day

Cross-disciplinary conference with NCAD will address how national museums have worked and been understood in the creation and maintenance of ideas of the nation.

The National Museum of Ireland invites interested parties to tender for gallery services associated with the recently announced 20th Century History of Ireland Galleries.

Technical assistance for urban management and rehabilitation of the Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata, Mauritania

The Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (Mauritania) were founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara, these trading and religious centres became rich and brilliant centres of Islamic culture. The urban fabric that evolved between the 12th and 16th centuries was preserved with its typical houses with patios crowded along narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret. They illustrate a traditional way of life centred on the nomadic culture of the people of the western Sahara.

In May 2000 the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) lent 5 million US dollars to the Mauritanian government for the Safeguarding and Valorisation of Mauritanian Cultural Heritage Project (PSVPCM).

This project aimed to define and implement a coherent strategy for the conservation and use of Mauritanian cultural heritage. It included an “ancient cities” component on conservation and management of historic centres. A protocol concerning the implementation of activities aiming to safeguard Mauritanian cultural heritage, which was signed in June 2000 between UNESCO, the World Bank and the Mauritanian government, allowed to supervise the project. Between 2001 and 2002, a series missions were carried out by World Heritage Centre specialists and by experts, some of which were provided in the framework of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement, in order to define firstly a strategy for safeguarding the four Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1996, and secondly, following the request of the Mauritian government, and with technical and financial support from the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement, to design a project-draft for the elaboration of master plans for the four ksour, which received the support of an architecte des bâtiments de France. Two design consultancy firms, one French and one Mauritian, where chosen to carry out the work which started in July 2003 and was completed in March 2005. During the Pilot-project activities, municipal technicians were trained for the follow-up of rehabilitation and construction work inside historic centres, the use of traditional building techniques and for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the master plans. In order to guarantee the follow-up of the actions and the transmission of know-how, municipal advice and counselling antennas were installed in the buildings restored during the on-site training.

The exemplary nature of this Pilot-project was enhanced by the organisation of the Mauritian World Heritage Cities days, from 11 to 15 April 2005 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, France. This initiative, inaugurated in the presence of the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, welcomed an international conference, a round table of partners, the screening of a documentary film, and an itinerant exhibition. This event was also the opportunity to introduce the Cities of Memory photographic collection, ancient ksour of Mauritania, which presents the works carried out within the framework of the Pilot-project. The organisation of the Conference and the publication of this work also benefitted from the support of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement.

State of Conservation

Factors affecting the property in 2007*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Desertification
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Socio-economic and climatic changes

b) Gradual abandonment of the towns

c) Transformations made to houses affecting their authenticity

e) No technical conservation capacities

f) No management mechanism (including legal)

g) Lack of human and financial resources

h) Weak institutional coordination.

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2007

Total amount provided to the property: USD 44,166, 00 in the framework of the France-UNESCO Convention USD 40,860 for the supervision of the World Bank-Mauritanian Government-UNESCO tripartite project (USD 1,245,000).

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2007

Requests approved: 7 (from 1995-2001)
Total amount approved : 119,632 USD

Missions to the property until 2007**

World Heritage Centre mission in April 2001 six World Heritage Centre missions between 2002 and 2004 in the framework of the World Bank project France-UNESCO mission and joint ICOMOS-World Heritage Centre mission in December 2006.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

The State Party sent a report on 26 January 2007 on the state of conservation of the property. It mentioned that, in Tichitt, some electrical installations are anarchic and visible. The city of Tichitt, unlike the three other cities, did not know massive abandonment of its historic centre. It still remains densely inhabited. This Ksar preserves the majority of its heritage values.

In Ouadane, the national report indicates that the major issue is indeed the presence of the antenna of Mauritel on the outside limit of the inscribed perimeter. It constitutes an element which alters seriously the visual aspect of the site.

Besides, the report mentions the application of white painting on official buildings located within the buffer zone, creating a striking contrast that alters the cultural landscape. It also mentions the installation of a totally visible network of water conveyance.

Despite those remarks, the conclusions of the report are positive. It also states that, despite the lack of funding, the National Foundation for the Safeguarding of the Ancient Cities (FNSVA) created an institutional and legal mechanism in favour of the protection and restoration of the four sites through:

a) The modification of the decree of creation of the FNSVA to make it more operational

b) the approval by the cabinet of town planning schemes and management plans of the old cities

c) The elaboration of the documents of implementation of the Fund for the architectural and urban rehabilitation of the four cities.

At its 30th session, the Committee requested that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission should visit the property.

Therefore, the mission visited the property from 10-26 December 2006 to assess notably how the State Party had implemented the recommendations of the pilot project &ldquoSafeguarding and Development of Four World Heritage Cities in Mauritania&rdquo which were the following:

Promulgation by the Parliament of the Law for heritage protection

Adoption of the urban development plans and safeguarding plans and the application of urban regulations

Creation and financing of a Heritage Rehabilitation Fund

Establishment of a management and technical assistance mechanism.

No progress has been made on putting in place legal protection.

Master Plans and Management Plans

Urban development plans for all four towns were approved by the Council of Ministers on December 20, 2006. They were accompanied by minimal regulations relating to planning and construction. The creation of buffer zones was approved for each historical city. These plans integrate the inventories of the buildings with planning and protection measures, actions to be carried out as with regard to tourism, and institutional organization. More general management plans have not yet been addressed.

At the request of the State Party, a mission was organised under the France-UNESCO Convention in order to provide assistance to the FNSVA in setting up the appropriate mechanism for the establishment and functioning of the special Fund for the safeguarding, rehabilitation and promotion of the four cities inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The State Party is providing an annual funding of about USD 709,000 for the next five years. There three types of funding are foreseen:

· Operations initiated by the Municipalities on public buildings

· Supporting the sale of local products and local arts and crafts

· Support for private dwellings.

The complementary resources are not yet guaranteed and should come from a variety of sources including bilateral and/or multilateral donors local communities gifts and legacies, national or foreign sponsorship tourist tax and airport taxes as well as other State grants.

The Fund will be managed by the FNSVA which will report to a Committee headed by the President and with members from Government departments.

There remains a need to delegate more responsibility to local players and to strengthen capacities both at administrative level and within the community in terms of traditional skills. A Management structure needs to be set up for each of the four cities with representatives of local communities. Currently the FNSVA is located far away from the cities: 1300 km from Oualata and more than 500 km from Tichitt, Chinguetti and Ouadane.

As well as addressing these issues, the mission report also re-confirmed the difficulties facing these four towns such as:

a) Progressive loss of traditional know-how by craftsmen such as stone masons

b) Use of inappropriate new materials

Un-regulated new building and demolition of houses, as well as re-use of materials

Urban development which does not respect city limits

Lack of information on the World Heritage status

Depopulation and the abandonment of city centres and spread of ruined buildings

Although some progress has been made in putting in place urban plans, and in agreeing to raise some of the needed funds for restoration and rehabilitation, a lot more needs to be done in terms of legal protection and management, in order to bring a halt to the progressive degradation of the cities and their abandon.

Watch the video: The Amazing Traditional House Video BHASURI 3BHK House (January 2022).