The main reason for me to travel to Bondoukou was to visit the famous mosque of Sorobango, some 20k north of town. Getting there turned out to be part of the adventure, as can be expected in Africa. The director of tourism hooked me up with the director of the tiny museum, and he was waiting for me when I entered their office, with a hat and brimmed glasses. It took him the better part of an hour to find a motorbike. Soon after we leave, I feel he does not have the driving skills most bike riders have here. He does not slow down in time, misses some of the ruts in the unpaved road, slips, and sometimes sends us flying into the air because he misjudges one of the many bumps on the road - one important detail is that he is wearing a helmet, and I am not. I remind him of this, but it does not make him slow down much, instead saying that I can trust his driving. When we arrive in Sorobango, he shows me that one of his brakes is not working at all.
We have stopped at a small, dusty square in town, and park the bike at a small stall under a tree. The vendor hangs the helmet of my guide on a branch, and walks with us to the adobe mosque which I can see rising above a green fence. The door is open, we leave our shoes at the doorstep, and once inside the compound, I notice how the fence only leaves a narrow corridor around the historic building. Without much ado, we step into the darkness of the small mosque. There are two aisles, with carpets on the floor, and a lightbulb on the wall which sheds a little light onto the handmade mud walls, curving and cracking, and the beams in the ceiling that are sagging under the weight of the roof. The aisle on the east side, where the mihrab is, is dedicated to the most important men of town, while the second is for the others.
We climb the steep stairs, carefully placing our feet on the high steps while watching out for the low ceiling, and then step onto the roof. The triangular minaret now looks small and cute. On one side, we see a cell where the imam could retreat in meditation. Just like the rest of the mosque, the surface of the roof is uneven. The crenellated wall makes the view better, especially when you sit low and only see the blue sky as a background. According to the guide and the local, this is the second-oldest mosque of the region, and the oldest still existing one. Built in the 18th century, they claim the entire building is still original, and that the walls are treated with a special oil which protects it against rainfall. I find that hard to believe: all the other, similar mosques need their walls to be redone. I can believe the wooden beams are original: they have cracks everywhere, and none of them is straight anymore. Back at ground level, my guide offers a sip from a special tank containing holy water; they cannot drink themselves as they are observing ramadan. From the square, I turn around one last time, and wonder whether the dead tree is older than the mosque, or not. After having seen the small, historic mosque from all possible angles, and having tasted their holy water, I am now happy to hop on the back of the motorbike and drive back to Bondoukou.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Sorobango mosque (Ivory Coast). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Sorobango mosque. Read more about this site.