Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Nakore

This is one of a series of posts about Ghana’s only six remaining historic mud mosques built in the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style. 

Just southwest of Wa in Ghana’s Upper East Region, lies the small village of Nakore (inaccurately labeled Kapaguri on Google). Behind the central mosque stands a centuries-old mud mosque in the ancient Sudanic style of architecture. It has recently been painted white and stands in beautiful contrast to its dull, modern surroundings.

Ask a local for the tour guide before you photograph and enter the old mosque. This historic mosque was one of only two that had an official visitor’s register for me to sign and a set fee to pay (10GHS, about $2.50). Both sites with tourist registers were well maintained and I’m guessing the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board has something to do with that.

My guide was a young, teenaged boy named Adam since the adult in charge had travelled. Adam was quite patient with my photographing and drone filming of the site. He wasn’t much help when it came to getting information about the historic site.

Young Adam told me the mosque was built in 1308 but that ancient (and hilariously precise) date doesn’t match up with most academic research that places it at the earliest in the 17th century. That is when Mande warriors began following the old Songhai trade routes south into modern day Ghana. As they settled, Islam began to take root along those north-south routes from Bobo-Dioulasso through Wa to Kumasi.

Even though the Nakore mosque is small, I chose to write about it first in this series because it is in great condition and is a perfect example of the classic Sudanic style.

It has a timber frame structure supporting a flat roof of mud construction.

Reinforcing timbers protrude externally and are used as scaffolding during construction and plastering.

The roof is accessed via steps leading from the interior of the mosque.

It has a series of irregularly shaped buttresses with pinnacles projecting above the parapet.

It has two towers that stand taller than the buttresses. One of these towers is facing east and over the mihrab. That tower contains a small meditation/prayer room called a haluwa.

Above the entrances are decorative triangular recesses. In Nakore, they say the five triangles are a reminder to pray five times a day.

A large clay water pot is kept just outside the mosque to hold water for ablution.

Just south of the mosque is an area reserved for burial of imams and the graves are marked with tombstones and Arabic script.

A few minor, modern additions have been made. The building is wired with electricity and they added a few bare bulbs to the interior. Outside, a large megaphone loudspeaker has been mounted on a buttress to announce the call to prayer.

Inside they have plastered the floor instead of it being dirt (other mosques have even added modern tile) and they have replaced the traditional animal skins with the plastic prayer mats seen all over West Africa.

One feature that makes this mosque my favorite is that it stands back from the other buildings in the neighborhood, especially on the south side due to the graveyard. They also constructed a low wall with a design that accompanies the mosque’s aesthetic and they’ve plastered the clearing inside. All this makes the Nakore mosque visually appealing and the most impressive of Ghana’s remaining six “ancient” mosques.

Be sure to check out my other posts about Ghana’s ancient mud mosques: LarabangaBole, Maluwe, WuriyangaBanda Nkwanta