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Oualata - Important Trading City

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Oualata (Walata, Iwalatan and Birou)

Background: Oulata has been a very important trading city for many years. It has been a caravan trade route across the savanna, for travelers wanting to stock up and trade their goods. While travelers such as the Arabs, Berbers and many black cultures, have left a little of their own history and heritage, as well as learn a thing or two from the way the Oualatans live.

After the collapse of Ghana, refugees had to flee to a small town, Birou, which is now known as Oulata. Many different tribes ha d to flee like the Berbers, the Soninke and the Massufa. All of these tribes had something to contribute, to the then small town; some were religious and also merchants, who started the trading. The nomads were the caravan leaders and also guided the tribes on the trade routes. The craftsmen contributed the unique and beautiful architecture and techniques still used today.

Buildings: Oualata is known for its unique and different architecture. The buildings are made from stone found in the dry desert in the surrounding areas. The roofs are made from dried out palm which is held together with mud from the earth. The houses are covered in a mud medium called Banco. All of their buildings are mainly built from the natural resources that surround them.

One of the most important features of a house in Oualata is the striking white-painted designs around the doors, windows and courtyards. None of these designs can be seen on the outside of the wall surrounding the houses, because they are sacred and should only been seen by the people who live there, as well as the people who have been invited in. In the tribes decorating the house like this is the women's task, while the men usually herd and do other work to make money.

The most elegant designs are kept for the senior wife's room and different high quality designs and motifs are used to symbolize her higher ranking in the town. The doors are normally quit elaborate, using wood as the main medium and using brass for decorations.

Tradition and hospitality: Oulata has a lot of heritage and the people who live there are big parts of it. All the people work together, for an overall better way of living. They are very hard workers and take pride in their surroundings and what they own, while still respecting and using their cultural heritage in everyday life.

Tourism plays a big in their income and is why they strive to keep everything in the best condition possible.

Families in Oualata are grouped and ranked according to their wealth and social aspects, the highest ranking families are the Surafa, which are believed to be the original family to discover the city.



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