A historiography of Sub-Saharan African mosques

From colonialism to modernity

Authored by: Cleo Cantone

Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367144234
eBook ISBN: 9780367144241
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



This chapter proposes to provide an overview of the evolution of the mosque on the African continent, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, principally on West and East Africa. It explores developments from the millennial mosques of Mali built in banco to the impact of colonialism and the influx of modern construction techniques incorporating the use of cement and North African–inspired minaret towers. As European colonialism affected the continent in disparate ways, this chapter focuses on specific areas within the AOF because of the Muslim population’s conflictual relationship with the Métropole, on the one hand, and the spiritual ties to the Islamic Maghreb, on the other. On the opposite side of the continent, a long-standing contact with Islam since the mid-eighth century, compounded with the Horn of Africa’s trade links with the Indian Ocean trade, gave rise to a different genius of mosque architecture. Coral and timber were widely available, giving rise to whitewashed structures with pillared prayer halls and a mihrab niche. Minarets were rare before the nineteenth century but they have shown increased multiplication and popularity as markers of Muslim identity.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.