What happened this week in Timbuktu is inexcusable; there can be no justification. In case you haven’t heard: there were reports coming out of Timbuktu that with the advance of the French troops on the town, the rebels torched the library as they fled.
However, it is with interest – and considerable relief, that I see that there were some forward-thinking individuals who may have been able to save many (if not all) of these manuscripts, after all over the past few months since Timbuktu was occupied by the rebels. They clearly saw what was coming…
Few people outside of research will probably ever see these manuscripts. We’ve been fortunate enough to have seen then in their display cabinets at the museum in Timbuktu.
The Government of South Africa and The University of Cape Town have been instrumental in preserving manuscripts and making them publicly available via the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, since 2003
Having been to Timbuktu in 2008, and having the privilege of visiting the museum – we know how important these manuscripts are to the people of not just Timbuktu, but to Mali and beyond. There is so much cultural significance it is impossible to convey as a lay-person. But you don’t have to be a scholar to understand their importance.