History fact: Larabanga is an Islamic town in West Gonja district in the Northern region of Ghana, 4km south of the entrance to the Mole National Park and known as home to the Larabanga mosque said to date from 1421. The people of Larabanga claim decent from Abu Ayyub al-Ansari.
“Larabanga” is a name derived from two words; ‘Larabanga’ (meaning ‘the Arab’) and ‘Nga’ (meaning town). “Larabanga” means “The Arab’s Town”.
According to legend, in 1421, an Islamic trader by name Ayuba, who was passing the night in the village had a dream in which he was instructed to build a mosque; a mosque which is now not only one of the eight ancient and highly revered mosques in Ghana, but the oldest as well. Interestingly, legend has it, that upon waking up from the dream, the foundation had already been set for Ayuba to build the mosque. After building the mosque, Ayuba remained in Larabanga till when he died; having requested that upon his death, he be buried close to the mosque. It is said that three days following his death, a baobab tree sprung up on his grave, marking the site of his burial. Till date, the locals depend on the leaves of the tree to heal different ailments.
The Larabanga mosque is popularly referred to as the “Mecca of West Africa” because of its rich historical and architectural attributes. Having been revered and preserved from generation to generation till date, the villagers have built an alternate mosque to Larabanga, where it is acceptable for them to pray and worship daily. An old Quran also lies within the mosque, believed by locals to have been a gift from Allah to Yidan Bramah, the Immam at the time; in 1650, as a result of his prayers.
Sadly, our tales from Larabanga take a tragic twist; when they tell of the deteriorated state it found itself in, in the 1970s; the result of which it has had to undergo numerous renovations till the 2000s and is now declared as one of the most endangered sites in Ghana. Indeed, the 1970s tell of gloomy times for the mosque; with termites infesting its wooden structures and part of its structure collapsing.
Legend permits us to end; speaking of one of the fascinating attractions of Larabanga; the Larabanga mystery stone; found at the outskirts of the village; which is said to always return to its original place when moved.
Have you enjoyed us tell this brief tale of Larabanga? Join us as we tour beautiful, historical and culturally rich places in Ghana and have the best time of your life. You definitely do not want to miss out on the BEHWE GH experience!