In the Islamic month of Ramadan, villagers from Tofesso, a small village located in the central region of Ivory Coast, come together at the village site where the construction of a mosque began 20 years ago, but has been suspended due to inadequate funding ever since and hold their hands up in prayer for its completion.
In 1994, village locals worked tirelessly to raise funds to build their very own mosque in Tofesso and managed to garner just over 5.8 million CFA francs (roughly $11,600), but the funds fell short in less than two months and the construction had ceased from then till now.
It’s been over 20 years now and the villagers are still struggling to collect the necessary funds, about 45 million CFA francs (roughly $90,000) needed to complete the mosque.
The chief of the village, Meboua Bagate, said that Tofesso is home to more than 1,000 Muslims and every year in Ramadan the villagers gather at the site and lead a prayer to Allah (God) so that the construction comes to an end and the villagers may have a place of worship.
Villagers are inspired by the aesthetic beauty of a mosque in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan and say one day they too will have a beautiful mosque just like that one.
Some of the village elders continue their daily prayers at the construction site, but say it is difficult to pray there, especially when it rains.
"But we don’t like to pray here,” said villager Bagate Bolou. “Because when it rains we get wet.”
The closest mosque is several kilometres away, and villagers set on foot on the rough roads to reach the mosque once a week to perform their Friday prayers (An Islamic prayer performed as a community).
"Every week,we must walk several kilometres to reach a mosque at which we can perform Friday prayers," Bolou said.
The village imam (name given to the one who leads the prayer), Mamadou Bagate says that the villagers have trouble finding a place to pray collectively.
There are no adequate resources nor spaces, he adds.
"We’re obliged to pray in front of the unfinished mosque,” he said speaking to Anadolu Agency. “Those who can’t find a place have to pray at home.”
“All our prayers to Allah are for the mosque’s completion,” he said with his hands held high in the hope that one day he too will be able to lead a prayer in comfort and peace with his fellow Muslims in a mosque.
Imam Bagate called on for some assistance from the ‘‘rich’’, he said ‘‘help us’’.