The Imam's son invited us to walk to his father's house to meet him. The old man was comfortably seated, but blind. The son actually spoke good English, but his father knew only a couple greetings, but we were flattered by his efforts to show good hospitality. During the walk back, we passed a prisoner shackled for some crime. Later, I asked my...more
The Sudanese style mud mosque is quite common in West Africa, but this one claims to be very old. Guidebooks debate the age, some arguing the building dates back to the 14th century. The huge tree adjacent to the building is obviously younger than the building, since it has infringed upon the mosque foundations, but other than that its difficult to...more
Every two years the mosque needs restoration. Being of adobe construction, the rains cause untold damage to the mud bricks. Hence the little wooden poles sticking out of the walls. A large group of local people help in the restoration project, using mud and cow dung to rebuild the walls, then whitewash them. This project was taking place while we...more
The mosque at Larabanga is reputed to be the oldest mosque in Ghana, and one of the oldest in West Africa. It is assumed to date from 1421, but there appears to be some disputes over the origin of the mosque – when it was built and who built it. Legend tells how an Islamic trader called Ayuba was travelling through the area when he discovered the...more
It is possible to have a guided walk through the village. It's of course also possible to do so without a guide, but then you will not be able to see the special places, and it is easier to take pictures of the locals when there is a guide accompaning you.Larabanga is typically Northern Ghana with only mud houses with flat roofs. During the walk...more
The main attraction in the village of Larabanga is the old and famous mosque. It is said that the mosque was built here in the beginning of the 15th century, and therefore it eould be the oldest mosque in Ghana.The building is very typical for Northern Ghana with its mud and sticks architecture. To make sure that you won't be disappointed when you...more
At the crossroads in Larabanga, there's a place were breakfast can be bought very cheaply. The food is safe and reasonably good, but not fantastic. Bottled beverages and canned goods are also sold here, so the place serves a dual role at a grocery. Nearby, vendors deep fry the Ghana version of a donut called "bo froot" throughout the day, and across the street women stil tuo zafi, a milet based porridge.
Favorite Dish: We had some kind of omlet sandwich and a cup of Nescafe'. Nothingn fancy, but it's good fuel in the place where one really needs it.
We shared a taxi from the bus station in Tamale to Mole National Park, but after leaving the park, the women returned to Tamale, while we chose to continue west to Wa. However, the bus that leaves Mole NP at 6AM heads toward Tamale. So, we took the bus as far as Larabanga, ate breakfast, toured town, and waited for another bus from Tamale to come by. The wait seemed like an eterenity, and there were suggestions by villagers that the bus might be broken down. Very little traffic comes through Larabanga, and so we couldn't even hitchhike. After about three hours, a truck loaded with sacks of grain arrived, and we nearly hopped aboard, determined to get our travels underway for the day. The Imam's son recommended against this however, as the truck would lumber at to slow a pace, and he insisted that the bus would come, however late. When the rusty bus arrived, it was completely packed with people, and there was hardly even standing room. Yam vendors surrounded the bus to sell their produce. Our bags were locked into the luggage cage, and we climbed aboard. The lumbering rusty bus continued on it's way to Wa. Price? Who knows! Maybe the equivalent of $4- a huge sum by Ghana standards.
One of the main drawbacks of visiting Larabanga is the self-confessed guides and little children who want to be your friend. The conversation starts out quite innocuous, with questions like “where are you from” and “what’s your name”, but invariably ends with requests for money. Hoards of little children will descend on you as you get out of your...more
A really annoying thing in Larabanga is the enormous amount of fake guides that hang around near the mosque. As soon as you get out of your car/bus you will be attacked by these -mostly- teenagers. They want to be your friend, they want to tell you about the mosque, but in the end the only thing they are interested in is your money. It is...more
We visited a Dagarti village on the way to Larabanga. The village was small and very primitive by western standards. There was no electricity, nor a well in the village, and the women would walk two miles or more to fecth water, carrying it back in a large container on their head.
The huts are built around a small courtyard, with the village chief having his own hut and each of his wives (he may have up to four wives) a hut each with their young children. There is no kitchen as such in their houses – during the dry season they would cook outside, when it rains they would take the fire inside. There is no chimney in the hut, so the smoke would linger inside.
It is traditional to greet the village chief before entering the village. On this occasion we did not do that, and were sternly reprimanded by a young man brandishing a gun!
A long time ago, around 1400, an islamic traveller was making a journey through what now is Northern Ghana. At one point he found a big rock on the middle of the road. He removed it with all the strength he had, but when he returned the next day he found the stone at exactly the same position. Another effort to move it had the same result.
The traveller understood that this was a sign of God that he had to build a village here, since it was a sacred place. He threw his spear from the point of the stone, and where the spear landed, miracally, the foundations for todays mosque were already made when he reached the spot. He finished the mosque and he built a village around it.
And the magic stone? That is still in the same position, with the road going around it with a big bend.