Earth Building Architecture in Mali

Earth Building Architecture in Mali

Earth building architecture in Mali

According to indexdotcom, the traditional clay building architecture in Mali is mainly located around the Bandiagara plateau southeast of Mopti. The Dogon people maintain this architecture to the present day. Earth building is particularly suitable for the hot, dry areas of the African savannah landscapes.

As an open space, the savannah is exposed to the sun without protection. The climate is characterized by high pressure weather conditions with a short rainy season from July to September and strong temperature fluctuations between day and night.

Clay, which is abundant and therefore cheap and easy to process, can be used as a building material. Clay protects against both the sun and the cold at night: the walls, which heat up during the day, release the stored heat at night, and during the day they cool the interior. The adobe buildings are aligned in such a way that they offer protection against the shallowly falling morning and evening sun. In addition, the settlements are built in such a way that the houses can shade each other.

One of the most important settlements for the traditional clay architecture of the Dogon is Djenné. Most of the houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries; There are hardly any modern buildings today. The city’s architectural showpiece is the mosque (Grand Mosqué). The ruler Amadu Hammadi Bubu had the previous building from the 15th century destroyed in 1815. Today’s mosque was built between 1906 and 1909 under French colonial rule based on the example of the old mosque in traditional construction. Its front length is 150 m and there is space for around 3,000 worshipers. The wooden beams protruding from the walls serve less for decoration than for a practical purpose: When it rains, the façades of the adobe buildings are damaged because the moisture softens the adobe. Workers, those who repair the damage use the rungs as handles and ladders. The repair scaffolding is built into the buildings at the same time.

Earth Building Architecture in Mali

In 1989, UNESCO declared the architecture of the Dogon in Mali a World Heritage Site.

World Heritage Sites in Mali

World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)

  • City of Djenné and remains from pre-Islamic times (K; 1988)
  • Mosques, mausoleums and cemeteries of Timbuktu (K; 1988)
  • Bandiagara Rocks and Dogon Culture (K / N; 1989)
  • Askia tomb mosque (K; 2004)

Askia Tomb (World Heritage)

The pyramid-shaped royal tomb of Askia Mohamed Touré is a testimony to the wealth and power of the Songhai Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was built in 1495 from unfired adobe bricks in Gao, the capital of the Songhai Empire.

Askia Tomb: Facts

Official title: Askia tomb
Cultural monument: Pyramid-shaped royal tomb made of unfired clay bricks, 17 m high; Erected in 1495 by Askia Mohamed (ruler of Songhai) in his capital, Gao; also, among other things, two mosques and a cemetery
Continent: Africa
Country: Mali
Location: Gao on Niger, southeast of Mali
Appointment: 2004
Meaning: Exceptional testimony to the wealth and power of an African empire in the 15th and 16th centuries due to the trade in salt and gold


In May 2016, parliament passed a law to implement the 2015 peace treaty with the Tuareg. However, the security situation remained precarious. Terrorist attacks by militant Islamists and Tuareg separatists were mostly directed against the soldiers and police officers of the UN mission (MINUSMA) and the Malian military. In July 2017, Mali and the neighboring states of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (“G5 Sahel”) set up a reaction force with 5,000 soldiers for counter-terrorism operations. It was first used in October 2017 in the border area with Burkina Faso. It was supported by the transnational French “Operation Berkhane” (3000 soldiers), which on August 1, 2014 had replaced the “Operation Serval”.

Modibo Keita’s successor in the office of Prime Minister was the previous Defense Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga (* 1958) on April 10, 2017 . His government surprisingly submitted his resignation on December 29, 2017. President Keita then installed a new cabinet under the leadership of former Foreign and Defense Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga (* 1954). Keita herself ran for another term. In the presidential election on July 29, 2018, he received 41.1% of the vote and ran against Soumaila Cissé ( 17.8%) in the runoff election on August 12, as in 2013. Keita won the runoff as expected, decidedly (67.2%) for themselves. The opposition then spoke of electoral fraud and called for protests.

The mood towards the government deteriorated due to the poor economic situation, corruption and increasing violence in the country. In June 2020, protesters critical of the government showed their dissatisfaction on the street. In a military coup on August 18, 2020, President Keita and several leading politicians were arrested. Keita was forced to resign and was released in early September. The coup plotters agreed to an 18-month interim government. It should prepare democratic elections and lead the country out of the crisis.