African Art


In the centre of Senegal you’ll find the holy city of Touba. Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba who immersed himself in the study of the Koran, building up a reputation as a formidable Islamic scholar.  In a vision, Bamba received the assignment to build this city, which was supposed to connect together life on earth and the spiritual  world: the melting of Din (religion), Dawla (community) and Dunya (world).

Bamba was looking for the perfect place to start building his city and one day he saw a tree in the desert in which he recognized a sign of God. This was the place where the city of Touba was founded in 1887. The name Touba is coming from the Koran. It is the name of a tree in Paradise and has the meaning of blessing and happiness.

At first the city did not develop fast, due to problems with the French rulers that led to the exile of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba to Gabon. On his difficult sea passage to Gabon something happened that all Mourides (Bamba’s followers) are proud of. When it came to the time for prayer, the owner of the ship approached Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba and asked him not to pray on board the vessel.  So Ahmadou Bamba took a sheepskin and laid it on the water and he prayed on that. The sheepskin stayed on the water's surface.

The importance of Touba became clear after Bamba passed away in 1927. His grave can be seen in the Great Mosque and his family took over the activities in the city. Touba is Senegal's most sacred city and it keeps growing. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Muslims make the journey to Touba (Magal), worshipping at the mosque and honouring the memory of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, founder and spiritual leader of the Mourides brotherhood.