Cour Royale de Tiébélé
From the base of a small hill overlooking the flat, sun-baked earth of the West African savannah, the Cour Royale de Tiébélé lies within circular, walled confines measuring roughly 1.2 hectares. The complex serves as the official residence of the pè, or community chief. Resplendent designs in black and white embellish the earthen architecture of Tiébélé and reflect the building traditions of the Kassena people, one of the oldest ethnic groups in Burkina Faso, who first settled the region in the fifteenth century.
Despite the absence of a new leader following the death of the last pè in 2006, regular maintenance of the site by the community has helped preserve this exceptional example of Kassena culture and the traditional skills associated with its preservation. For a site still very much woven into the fabric of community life, Tiébélé faces challenges to sustain the integrity of its structures, including flooding and resulting erosion as well as planning for tourism management. There is interest in developing the site as a cultural tourism destination to generate economic resources for conservation. Encouraging visitors while protecting local culture and tradition requires a delicate balance and integrated management. Inclusion on the 2012 Watch will promote awareness about Tiébélé to build support for a long-term stewardship plan.
Since the Watch
Following the 2012 Watch, local advocates were successful in raising funds for conservation at the Cour Royale de Tiébélé. To re-engage the community in the care and maintenance of the site’s traditional structures, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Burkina Faso organized a Watch Day during which local women trained a younger generation in the traditional Kassena designs by restoring the decorated surfaces of one of the compound’s buildings. At the end of the two-year Watch cycle, World Monuments Fund awarded a Certificate of Exceptional Accomplishment to the site in recognition of outstanding efforts toward positive change. The certificate is accompanied with a $2,500 award. Last update: March 2014
Watch Day 2012
At the Cour Royale de Tiébélé, the community organized a ceremony to commemorate Watch Day and held a contest to design and create traditional Kassena murals on the earthen structures.