This unique architectural wonder in Wulugu has an intriguing mystical and spiritual backstory.
Sheik Abdul-Karim was a Mossi man who migrated to Wulugu from the Bawku area. He claims to have had a dream in which the design of this building was revealed to him. When he went to the site from his dream, he found a well that he saw as a sign that Allah had provided water for its construction.
He built the structure directly above the well and designed it so that water could be accessed from from each level – even the upper room!
As he built, he noticed that when he awoke each morning another level was miraculously added to that which he had built the previous day. This continued day after day until he completed the massive, symmetrical, four-story mud building.
He then had another dream in which he was told that the site was to be considered holy ground. For that reason, everyone must remove their shoes before entering.
Additionally, there is a belief that the well contains sources water directly from Mecca’s holy Zamzam Well. This belief is very similar to that of the B’ir Barouta Well in Kairouan, Tunisia. Many visitors to Zayaa collect this holy water from the well believing that it has the power to bring good luck and healing.
Zayaa is not a mosque. Abdul-Karim and his family lived in it for many years and it is not used for daily prayers. It could be defined as a shrine because of the mystical beliefs about it and the religious pilgrims that visit it. Just next to the shrine to the north is an actual mosque of which Sheik Abdul-Karim was the imam until he passed and his son took over.
After Friday and special Eid prayers, congregants from the mosque next door sometimes enter the shrine’s courtyard and walk around it counterclockwise performing tawaf (circumambulation). This is in imitation of the ritual done at the Kaaba and re-affirms the belief that Zayaa has a mystical connection to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.
The details on the history and age of the place are a bit fuzzy but it’s likely only 60-70 years old having been built in the 1950s or 60s. One must consider that the son of its builder is the imam of the mosque next door. Also, his wife only recently passed away.
Finally, upon entering the building one will also see plane saw cut wood as its ceiling support that couldn’t be a century old.
For a small fee, anyone can visit this fascinating building with a guide. Zayaa Shrine can be see to the west from the main Walewale-Bolga Road just on the south side of Wulugu.