Website Category: Traditional Cultural Landscapes
Criteria: (iii) cultural tradition (v) interaction with the environment (vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: Sukur cultural landscape is located about 120 km south of Maidaguri in northeast Nigeria, in the Mandara Mountains along the Cameroon border. It is as remote as any place in Nigeria, a beautiful settlement of perhaps 2,000 people high in the mountains with no direct vehicular access. The area has been under essentially the same form of land management for at least 400 years, under the Dur dynasty of chiefs. Local granite has been used to build terraced fields (which are invested with a spiritual significance with sacred trees and ritual sites), and defensive dry stone walls around homesteads. The area has a long tradition of iron smelting, and village architecture reflects the prevailing social hierarchy, the most prominent set of buildings being the Hidi (chief’s) Palace located on a hilltop overlooking the rest of the village.
Slideshow of the Sukur Cultural Landscape: The slideshow features photos kindly provided by Heike Hoyer and Jonathan Barrow showing the long hike into this remote corner of Nigeria and the main features of the landscape and buildings. Houses are clustered tightly together with each group surrounded by a high defensive dry-stone wall. From a distance these clusters of houses blend into the landscape so perfectly that they can hardly be distinguished amongst the massive granite boulders and scattered trees. Some of the Sukur village architecture is shown, involving only natural locally-available materials. The massive stone entrance to the Hidi's Palace is featured, as well as a traditional Initiation Room.
Slideshow of the Sukur Cultural Landscape:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Sukur cultural landscape on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. You can learn an enormous amount from this kind of ‘bird’s eye view’, so take a few minutes to explore the surroundings by panning in and out, and looking to left and right at high resolution. The terraced fields are clearly visible in this satellite view, as are the circular enclosures of the homesteads and the individual thatched houses.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details