|On Monday we started early to drive to Djenne, a World Heritage listed town which sits on an island in the Bani River. The scenery on the road is fairly flat, with fields of sorghum, millet, corn and rice plus herds of cattle. The rains didn't come this year and the harvest has failed, so the fields have just been left and the cattle will be allowed to eat what remains.
After crossing the river on the ferry we arrived in Djenne at lunch time.
Djenne boasts an incredible mud mosque, the largest mud building in the world, which is quite a sight. Monday is also the day of the famous Djenne market and the town is alive with traders selling everything you can imagine. It's hard to describe the atmosphere - noisy, lively, colourful, smelly, dusty - with people and animals everywhere. The children just wanted to have their photos taken or hold our hands, though we had to get used to being called tubabu, which we think means "Whitey"! Kunta did tell us it comes from the Arabic "tubib" meaning doctor, as that was what the early white visitors were - that sounds a bit more respectable!
Djenne is one of West Africa's oldest towns and in the 14th and 15th centuries it was a seat of learning as well as a major trading town on the trans Sahara route, which included Timbuktu.
The mosque was built in 1907, though the original mosque was constructed in 1280 after the 26th king of Djenne converted to Islam. It's huge with big wooden spars jutting out from its walls and each year the people have to re-do the mud render after the rainy season, as do all the other houses in Djenne. Old Mali mosques do not have the crescent and star of other mosques, but have ostrich eggs embedded in the spires.