Timbuktu Manuscripts

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

Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in conjunction with South Africa

Timbuktu Manuscripts_01

Timbuktu Manuscripts_02

Timbuktu Manuscripts_03

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.

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10 thoughts on “Timbuktu Manuscripts

    1. There are many manuscripts that have been digitised, which is great for the sake of preservation from being otherwise over-handled. I don’t know how many lay uncatalogued, let alone digitised – there are thousands of manuscripts!
      I do hope that the report regarding their safe keeping before the museum was torched, is indeed true.
      Many thanks for visiting and reblogging this post.

  1. I was surprised to learn many years ago that Timbuktu was an actual place. It seemed like a made up name for something far away and very exotic. Why on earth is there fighting in Timbuktu?

    1. Unfortunately, there are some radical fundamentalists that have always been living in the north of Mali in the Sahara Desert. A year or so ago there was a military coup in Mali, and these radicals decided that, in the chaos that usually comes with coups etc etc, that they would seek to exploit Mali. They have been moving steadily southwards (they’ve been occupying Timbuktu for several months already and desecrated any number of shrines to saints) and were almost upon Bamako, the capital, before the Malians requested France’s military assistance, as the Malian Army was unable to repel the advances of the radicals by themselves.
      Now that the French are forcing the radicals/rebels/fundamentalists (whatever you want to call them) back towards the north, they are destroying anything and everything that doesn’t conform to their extreme version of Islam. Timbuktu, being a centre of academia and religion for centuries, hosts many valuable artefacts of religious and cultural significance. There have been many other towns that have been seriously affected by these extremists, unfortunately – it is not just Timbuktu and it’s citizens that have suffered.
      It’s a tragic story, that I hope teaches the next army upstart looking to usurp a democratic leader NOT to throw a coup, but seek to hold due democratic process – that cannot leave the country vulnerable to those who only seek to destroy democracy.

    1. I’m hoping that what I’ve read lately is true – in that they have managed to save them 🙂
      So, Yay! – It would have been a truly sad loss across the board, otherwise…

  2. I hope I live to see the day when fighting ceases acrossed not just Africa but the middle east and the whole world too. I hope that day lasts a long time too.

    1. Yes, I would love to see that happen too, Questen.
      Intolerance and fear: terrible things to have to live with and deal with, and yet it goes on and on and on.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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