Timbuktu is a mess right now. But the bright side is easy to find. Timbuktu’s historic love of peace and learning are inspirational. I found two great articles about Timbuktu for you, as well as photos that show you some of every day life.
Although I doubt you have books from the 14th century like the home libraries in Timbuktu, you can take your kids on a hunt to find the most “ancient” books in your house. Then ask your kids why it’s worth saving them.
First an excerpt from Michael Covitt, the Founding Chairman of the Malian Manuscript Foundation (link below):
“There remains a glimmer of hope.
This hope stems from the endurance of Mali’s centuries-old doctrines, found in their Ancient manuscripts—a blueprint for peace, tolerance, cultural diversity, and conflict resolution that was written over the 12th through 16th Centuries in the Golden Age of Timbuktu. Then one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Mali controlled two-thirds of the world’s gold supply. …”
“Mali’s roughly one million ancient manuscripts cover nearly every branch of learning—including medicine, architecture, astronomy, astrology, music, religion, women’s rights, children’s rights and animal rights, just to name a few. Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote, “My hope is not only that Mali will continue to work to build a lasting peace and an environment for sustainable development, but also that this country will serve as a beacon for other States to follow.”
Until recently, Mali was considered one of the safest nations on earth. For years, Mali has been regarded as one of the most stable democracies in Africa. And for nearly 1,000 years, Mali has pursued its tradition of settling all differences through dialogue, tolerance, and forgiveness—tenets gleaned from these ancient manuscripts. An 18th century manuscript from Timbuktu states that, “Tragedy is due to divergence and because of lack of tolerance. Glory to he who creates greatness from difference and makes peace and reconciliation.”
During its Golden Age, Mali controlled a vast share of the global gold supply and controlled much of the world trade in salt and slaves. Students and scholars from Persia, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey attended prestigious universities in Timbuktu and stayed on to pen their own manuscripts.”
Michael D. Covitt is Founding Chairman of Malian Manuscript Foundation; Chairman & CEO of Sabatier Film Group, and Producer and Executive Producer of the film “333.” A link to the film’s website and the Sabatier Film Group can be found here. The password is onehumanity.
Then, click on NPR to get a short history of Timbuktu, Mali from NPR.
And finally, National Geographic photos of Timbuktu, Mali here.
If you’d like to help preserve World Heritage sites like Timbuktu, you can take a look at the UNESCO site.