Libreville – Republic of Gabon
African Region’s Capital of Islamic culture for 2018
Libreville (literally free city) is the political and administrative capital of Gabon and the chief town of Estuaire province. It is the country’s most populated city, with an estimated population of 850,000 people, which alone accounts for half of the country’s population. Thanks to its rich cultural and historical heritage, Libreville is one of the region’s best tourist destinations.
- Libreville and Islam:
Islam has been present in sub-Saharan Africa for a very long time, dating back at least to the 11th Century. The spread of Islam in the region gained further impetus as more sub-Saharans converted to Islam, with the advent of the Almoravid movement.
With the Arab-Islamic revival of the 19th Century and the evolution of the country, Islam prospered for years with the arrival of merchants from Chad and other West African countries in quest of new markets. Moreover, the need for labor hand brought new waves of immigrants during the French colonization of Gabon. French colonizers also brought West African immigrants into Gabon, many of whom were Muslims, to cope with the country’s underpopulation.
After independence, the President of the Republic of Gabon, Albert Bernard Bongo, converted to Islam and performed the rites of pilgrimage to Mecca on the same year, renaming himself Haj Omar Bongo. In 2004, the first conference of Muslims in Gabon was held in Libreville to promote Islam as a tolerant religion with unified practices and practical structure. This conference issued a charter of Islamic religion and the creation of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Gabon, a body that brings together all Gabonese Muslims.
- Libreville, Capital of Islamic Culture for 2018 :
2018 will be an opportunity to promote and discover the rich and diverse culture of Libreville; introduce the international community to the values on which the history of this city is founded.