Gaoui © David Stanley
Gaoui is a charming village conveniently located just over six miles (10km) northeast of the capital, N'Djamena, making it a good excursion for those who want to see the country beyond the city but haven't the means or the time to travel far. Gaoui is known for its traditional crafts, particularly pottery, and for its wonderful traditional architecture which has made it a favourite with photographers. There is a small pottery museum in the village, standing as testimony to the local mastery of the art. Gaoui was once a settlement of the Sao civilisation, an ancient culture which is thought to have originated in the Nile Valley and which was introduced to the region around Lake Chad possibly as early as 3000 BC. The Sao culture is alive and well in local folklore and the inhabitants of Gaoui proudly consider themselves the descendents of this ancient culture, and continue their pottery tradition.
Today Gaoui is a small, sleepy village with a mosque, a school, a pottery museum, and a few dozen picturesque traditional buildings. The locals are very friendly to visitors and are liable to invite them into their homes, particularly if tourists express an interest in the architecture. Some may recognise the village from the 2002 film Abouna, which was filmed partially in the village.