Mopti, Mali, 19 June 2006 - The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) handed over the keys of the Great Mosque of Mopti in a ceremony attended by His Excellency Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Mali’s Minister of Culture, regional and local representatives of Mopti, members of the Mosque Committee and all the specialist professionals involved in the restoration of the building.
Following a guided tour of the mosque, during which the authorities reviewed the completed restoration work in the company of Francesco Siravo, head of the project at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) – the AKDN agency which undertook the restoration work – and Férid Nandjee, the AKDN’s Resident Representative in Mali, the keys to the Mosque were handed over to His Excellency Cheick Oumar Sissoko, in a ceremony symbolising the completion of the work. The Minister then presented the keys to Kissima Touré, head of the village of Mopti, in a ceremony witnessed by leading figures of the city.
In their respective speeches, His Excellency Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Férid Nandjee and Francesco Siravo all praised the outstanding success of the restoration project, which started in November 2004. The speakers noted that the success reflected the extremely close cooperation between all the parties involved – the AKTC, the Ministry of Culture, the regional and local authorities, the Mosque Committee – and the dedicated commitment of the AKTC experts and the various groups of professionals involved in the restoration – masons, ironworkers, carpenters, electricians, and public address system technicians. All three speakers emphasised the long-term conservation of this architectural jewel, urging the Mosque authorities to undertake appropriate maintenance systematically.
It was following a visit to Mali by His Highness the Aga Khan in October 2003 that an AKTC technical team identified the extent and urgency of the structural problems of Mopti’s Great Mosque, also known as Komoguel Mosque. The restoration works carried out between November 2004 and June 2006 were conducted in strict observance of traditional construction techniques.
The Great Mosque of Mopti, which was officially listed as part of the country’s cultural heritage in 2005, is an imposing earthen structure built in the traditional Sudanese style between 1936 and 1943 on the site of an earlier mosque dating from 1908. The restoration work comprised a number of different phases: the complete reconstruction of the roof; stabilisation of the upper part of the building which had been damaged by the inappropriate use of cement in a previous restoration effort in 1978; repairing the earthen brickwork, removing damaged sections and rebuilding them with traditional earthen bricks; applying a traditional coating made by mixing earth with rice husks – called banco pourri – to the external walls; replacing the earth bricks along the building facades; rebuilding the parapet and the pinnacles of the terrace; removing and partly renovating the outer earthen coatings, which were in a state of disrepair; renovating the outer courtyard. Plumbing was installed in the courtyard along with a fountain for worshippers’ use. The interior of the Mosque has also been substantially improved: the floor has been completely rehabilitated; renovation work on the staircase has made it easy to access the terrace; a new PA and electrical system has been installed, including new lights; and there is a new ventilation system. The Mosque has also been given new doors made of high-quality seasoned wood.
This restoration work was undertaken in conjunction with the National Cultural Heritage Department of Mali’s Ministry of Culture, regional authorities, the city of Mopti and the Mosque’s committee. The local authorities also helped with the selection of experienced bricklayers, as well as young apprentices who were trained in construction and restoration techniques during the project. Training is an important component of AKTC’s mission and international work.
During the ceremony, certificates were awarded to two master builders, 17 bricklayers, 18 skilled labourers, five carpenters, 11 craft workers and other professionals, in acknowledgement of their contribution to the restoration project and the quality of their work. This part of the ceremony was supervised by Gisèle Taxil, the architect in charge of the work on site.
This restoration work is, among other projects, a part of a Memorandum of Cooperation signed by Mali’s Ministry of Culture and the AKTC, on 22 February 2006, relating to the conservation of Mali’s earthen architecture. Further initiatives of this kind are planned, notably in Djenné and Timbuktu. It should also be noted that in August 2005 the Republic of Mali and the AKDN signed an Agreement of Cooperation relating to the country’s social (health, education, rural development and civil society), cultural and economic development. In this framework, , and with the aim of helping to conserve Mali’s cultural heritage, the AKDN also plans to undertake work in the area of Komoguel 1, adjacent to the Mosque. These efforts will improve sanitary and environmental conditions for the people who live there, pave streets and, at a later stage, provide microfinance and professional training.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) implements initiatives aimed at revitalising the heritage of the Islamic world, contributing to social and economic development. The AKTC draws on extensive expertise gained in the restoration of traditional buildings in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Syria and Zanzibar.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society.
If you would like further information please contact:
Aga Khan Development Network (Mali)
Immeuble UATT, sis quartier du fleuve
B.P.E 2998, Bamako
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the most vulnerable members of society.
The National Museum of Mali was set up in 1953 in order to collect, conserve and showcase Mali’s cultural and artistic heritage. Since then, its collections have grown and diversified, and they now cover the whole spectrum of cultural heritage: history, archaeology, ethnography, arts and crafts. Today the Museum houses more than 6,000 objects, including a unique textile collection, and it also has a superb holding of photography and videos. Following its extension in 2003, the National Museum has three permanent exhibitions which are open to the public, on archaeology, ritual arts and textiles. It also plays a major role in promoting contemporary art by organising temporary exhibitions and acquiring works by contemporary artists.