Africa

The race to cover a Mali mosque in mud

Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption Every year for one day a whole town of thousands gets together to cover this massive mosque in Mali in mud as Alex Duval Smith & Nadia Zephinie report.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption There has been a mosque on this site Djenne since the 13 Century. The current structure is the largest earthen building in the world. People manage to get to the top to slap on mud.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption They do so by using these ladders made of timber and rope. The erosion is caused by the rain and cracks are caused by changes in temperature and humidity.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption Even though thousands of people took part in applying the mud, no serious injuries were recorded.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption Teams compete to finish first. "There is no prize but the honour lasts all year. You gain respect," says 15-year-old Abdoulaye Sahampo.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption Teenagers pass up their baskets of mud to teams of masons who slap it on the walls.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption The younger children scrape the mud from the river bed. Mason Limbo Bocoum chants the names of their favourite food. He says they work better if they are looking forward to a good meal.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption It is the one day of the year where children can get as muddy as they like and their mothers will not complain.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption Master mason Boubacar Kouroumansse noticed more people bringing Malian flags this year. He suggests people want to demonstrate their attachment to their country at a time of violence.
Image copyright Nadia Zephinie
Image caption By 08:00 it is already more than 30C in Djenne and the render that was pasted on the front of the mosque at 05:00 is almost dry.

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