It is important to stop by and take pictures with the most prominent monument of Zagora city center. The 52-days to Tombouctou sign is the emblematic monument of the city.
The sign has significant special importance because it recalls Zagora’s critical position in trans-Saharian trade. It also honors Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour Dahbî’s expedition to Timbuktu, a journey that had a long-term impact on the Sahel region.
Crossroads for trans-Saharan caravans
During the reign of the Saadian Dynasty in the 16th century, Morocco’s borders extended all the way to the Niger River in the Sahel. Around that time, the Drâa-Taghaza-Timbuktu passage became the preferred trans-Saharian trade route. It relied on the exchange of salt, gold, local oasis products, and European goods from then on… just like trade along the Silk Road.
Zagora, a crucial stop on this route, became a crossroads for large caravans to resupply and pay transit and security fees. This helped the oasis’s economic and social transition to prosperity.
The sign recalls both this epic time and the importance of Zagora as a trans-saharan trade oasis.
Commanded by Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ad-Dahbî against the Songhua and Askia’s armies, the battle of Tondibi took place on March 12, 1591, fighting the Saadi army.
This war was won by the Saadian army; resulting in the fall of the Askias dynasty, and the expansion of the Saadian Empire all the way to the Niger River.
This successful expedition had stopped at Zagora on its way to the Songhai Empire. The Tombouctou 52-day board commemorates this journey.