Did some sightseeing around Sikasso the other day.
There are several hills in the Southern end of the city that have huge statues on them. I went off the beaten path on the motorcycle, weaving through the back streets and alleyways to find them.
The first hill I climbed was a statue commemorating the fifteen month long Siege of Sikasso by Guinea’s King Toure . Almamy Samore Toure, (1830 – June 2, 1900) created the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state that covered modern-day Guinea. He resisted French colonial rule in West Africa from 1882 until his capture in 1898.
During Toure’s conquests, he also sought to capture the Kenedougou (Sikasso) Kingdom to his North.
In May, 1887, Toure surrounded Sikasso’s Tata and held the city in Seige until August 1888. The Tata was a twenty foot tall, fifteen foot thick fortified mud wall that Tieba Traore build around Sikasso to secure it.
Tieba Traoré, whose mother came from Sikasso area, became King of the Kénédougou Empire (just south of current day Sikasso). He moved its capital to the current location. Traore established his palace on the sacred Mamelon hill (now home to a water tower) which is in the center of the city, at the market roundabout. He constructed a tata or fortifying wall to
defend against the attacks of both the Dyula, Samory Toure and the French colonial army. The city withstood Toure’s fifteen month siege, from 1887 to 1888 making Traoré a hero of his people. However, ten years later, the city did fall to the French in 1898. Rather than surrender to the colonial army, Tieba’s brother Babemba Traoré, who succeeded him as king, committed suicide rather than surrender. They were the last empire to fall to the French in what is now modern day Mali.
Honoring the famous Bamanankan saying, “Saya ka fisa ni maloya ye” DEATH IS PREFERABLE TO SHAME
I’ve climbed Mamelon hill as well. To date there is only a water tower, but construction began on the hill while I was here, and we are certain a more tourism-welcoming memorial is being built for this significant historical site of Mali.
From Toure’s hill to the north, about one kilometer, we could see a second statue on a peak towards the north. Off we went on the motorcycle, found its location and climbed the stairs leading to the top. The view was even more splendid over Sikasso.
It is worth the scenic view to come to both hilltops, but here even more so.
This hill displays Camara, Toure’s head general, loading a musket at the Siege of Sikasso.
I had hoped that I found a solitary place, with great panoramic sunset views to retreat to when in town, as we were alone on the hill in the middle of the day.
However, I returned to Camara’s hill one other evening to enjoy a sunset, and it was populated with a dozen young men, a girl studying, and soccer players warming up for evening games by running up and down the stairs to the hilltop. A great place to visit, but a little too congested for me to hang out there.
Toure’s hill is a little further off the beaten path, and not so near a residential area.