The Loropeni fortress was built on a geostrategic location to serve the Ghanaian, Malian and Songhai Kingdoms in their quest to get their gold extractions to the Arabs and European traders.

Ruins of Loropéni

The Ruins of Loropeni is an 11,130 square meter property that became the first site to be inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2009 in Burkina Faso. Its imposing stone walls is the best preserved of the 10 fortresses found in the Lobi Area.

The fortress was one of the 100 stone enclosures that form the evidence of the existence of trans-Saharan gold trade. The fortress is located near the borders with Ghana, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. Estimated to be at least 1,000 years old, the settlement was the home of the Lohron or Koulango Peoples that were in control of the extraction and transformation of gold in the region during. The gold trade reached its apogee in the 14th to 17th centuries.

There is a lot of mystery in the surrounding large area, much of which is yet to be excavated. The property was deserted in the early 19th century when the French legionnaires started venturing this far into the hinterland.

The fortress was previously associated with the Gan People, but a more recent assessment has revealed it belonged to the Lohron People. The Loropeni fortress was built on a geostrategic location to serve the Ghanaian, Malian and Songhai Kingdoms in their quest to get their gold extractions to the Arabs and European traders. The Akan and Ashanti Kingdoms were especially powerful as they accommodated the people fleeing the slave hunters further south towards the coast of Ghana.

This gold bearing region was connected to the large commercial cities of Timbuktu, Mopti and Djene that were located north of River Niger by the Caravan travelling Arabs. The Lobi country was crossed by the north –south Mopti-Sore-Dioulasso-Kong route as well as the east-soutwest Ouagadougou-Boromo-Diebougou-Gaoua-Bondoukou route.

With the absence of written documentary evidence, historians have relied on the oral traditions to discover that most of the fortresses in the Lobi area were built by the Koulango People. These people seemed especially adept in construction since they are also credited with building the fortresses in other areas of Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. The Koulango people were preceded by the Lorhon and Nabe Peoples who had migrated into the area at around 10th century.

To cut a long story short, a tourist would want to learn about the extensive trans-Sahara trade and the ruins of Loropeni in Burkina Faso is a good place to start. Good luck with the desert landscape.

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