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Photographs by
Christien Jaspars
and water with their hands and feet, and listen to the spectacle accompanied by a chorus of splashes and screams.

The women devote themselves with great enthusiasm to their important and honourable task: the preparation of the food. And the older Djennenkau stand at the base of the mosque, providing jokes or technical information for the show. The town, which consists of several districts, has been divided into two sections for this celebration. One half of the mosque is plastered on the first morning, and the other team does the other half on another day.

The helpers, or des manouvreurs as they are known locally, carry out their tasks as part of this competition. This pushes the pace of the crépissage and stimulates the playful and competitive atmosphere in which the youths carry out their work. The driving rhythm issuing from the drums sweeps this mud ballet up to the level of virtuosity, making the annual communal restoration of Allahs house and experience that is eagerly looked forward to.
Lasiné Salementay, an old bricklayer, stands at the bottom of the ladder. He makes sure that the boys delivering the loam replenish the stocks of the correct bricklayer on the top of the mosque. Go to Abdoullay, he needs your loam, cant you see that? He lifts his stick menacingly, and has already had to deal out several blows today to young boys that had got a little out of hand because of all the excitement. Shaking his head he turns away from the scene and comments to a colleague that the boys from Youboukaina have got their heads around the job better this year!

A great many of the inhabitants of Djenné are involved in the fête de crépissage. From young to old, experienced to novice, everyone has a task suited to their capacities and abilities. Young men and boys, the helpers, carry the baskets with loam. A few expert bricklayers who apply the loam to the pointed spires adorning the roof of the mosque wait atop the ladders.

The girls supply the water to mix and dilute the loam. Children play with, and simultaneously mix, the loam