Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Larabanga

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


The history of the mud mosque in Larabanga is difficult to distinguish from the many myths about it. Its fame and popularity probably owe a lot to the appeal of the mystery and magic in those fascinating legends.

The Many Myths of Larabanga Mosque

Oral and some written historical accounts regarding the founding of the community of Larabanga indicate that it was by a man named Ibrahim Braimah. He was a powerful mallam who came to the region in the 17th century with the Malian invaders that established the Gonja Empire in present-day Ghana’s Upper West Region.

You’ll sometimes hear that the Larabanga mosque was founded in 1421 instead of 1600s and the claim that it is the oldest mosque in all of West Africa. This idea comes from another oral account of an Islamic trader named Ayuba had a dream while staying there instructing him to build a mosque. He awoke to find the foundation of the mosque already constructed. The challenge comes where elements from that oral tradition begin to duplicate and/or conflict with the stories surrounding the mallam Braimah.

Legend has it that after the war in the late 1600s, Braimah threw a spear and determined that he would settle wherever it landed. It traveled through the air and landed on a high spot that seemed unnaturally bright. It was there that he built the mosque and his home. He named the community that sprung up around him “Larabanga” meaning “Land of the Arab.” Read More

Elephants in June at Mole National Park

With my parents’ visit we decided to take them to Mole National Park. June isn’t necessarily the best time to go because the rains have started and the elephants leave the watering holes and head into the bush. However, we got lucky and there were a good dozen or more still hanging around the area.

The kids spent a ton of time in the pool and it was a great chance for Heidi to have a break from hospital work.

We saw plenty of wildlife on the walking safari and then took our own truck into the park on safari to see more.

I finally got to see wild buffalo in the part though they were far away and I didn’t get a photo. Still checking it off my list!

Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Banda Nkwanta

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


Banda Nkwanta is a small town sitting at the intersection of the Bui Dam road and the Wa-Techiman highway. Its Sudanic-style mud mosque stands tall – very tall – right at that junction. Of all the mud mosques in Ghana, it has the tallest towers. Read More

Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Wuriyanga

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


All of but one of Ghana’s mud mosques lie along the upper western side of the country. On the complete other side of the country, just a couple miles from the Ghana-Togo border, stands the most unique of Ghana’s Sudano-Sahelian buildings. Just east of the town of Garu, in the small village of Wuriyanga (pronounced and spelled “Woriyanga” by locals), stands a historic mosque in the “Djenne style.”

Features of Wuriyanga’s Djenne Style Mosque

Three things immediately stand out when you see the Wuriyanga mud mosque: it isn’t whitewashed, it only has one tower, and it has no exterior buttresses. Read More

Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Maluwe

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


Maluwe is a small village just east of Bui National Park by which the Wa-Techiman highway passes. Its mud mosque sits right on that heavily trafficked road. Unlike most of the other mud mosques in Ghana, it has not had a larger, more modern mosque built to replace it. Instead some modern building techniques have been used to expand it to accommodate more people. Read More

Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Bole

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


On my trip to see the ancient mosques in northern Ghana, I was disappointed to find two of the three mud mosques in the Upper West Region to be collapsed and abandoned. Entering the Northern Region, my first stop was in ex-president John Mahama’s hometown of Bole where another Sudano-Sahelian style mosque was reported to stand.

I was pleased to find it not only standing but in great condition and still in use. I greeted the chief imam, signed the visitor register, paid my 10 cedis and was given a guide to take me in. I arrived a bit after noon time and they were preparing for midday prayers so my tour was a bit rushed. Read More