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Thread: People of Timbuktu save manuscripts from invaders

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    Thumbs up People of Timbuktu save manuscripts from invaders

    PEOPLE OF TIMBUKTU SAVE MANUSCRIPTS FROM INVADERS




    FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 file photo, Abdoulaye Cisse, who lives in the Timbuktu area, holds open a book at the Hamed Baba book repository, one of the world's most precious collections of ancient manuscripts, in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamists claimed they burned most of the holy books there, and for eight days the fire alarm blared inside the repository. But because of the ingenuity of the people of Timbuktu, who hid manuscripts in millet bags, the al-Qaida-linked extremists succeeded in destroying only 5 percent of the collection. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore, File)


    TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — For eight days after the Islamists set fire to one of the world's most precious collections of ancient manuscripts, the alarm inside the building blared. It was an eerie, repetitive beeping, a cry from the innards of the injured library that echoed around the world.

    The al-Qaida-linked extremists who ransacked the institute wanted to deal a final blow to Mali, whose northern half they had held for 10 months before retreating in the face of a French-led military advance. They also wanted to deal a blow to the world, especially France, whose capital houses the headquarters of UNESCO, the organization which recognized and elevated Timbuktu's monuments to its list of World Heritage sites.

    So as they left, they torched the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research, aiming to destroy a heritage of 30,000 manuscripts that date back to the 13th century.

    "These manuscripts are our identity," said Abdoulaye Cisse, the library's acting director. "It's through these manuscripts that we have been able to reconstruct our own history, the history of Africa . People think that our history is only oral, not written. What proves that we had a written history are these documents."


    The first people who spotted the column of black smoke on Jan. 23 were the residents whose homes surround the library, and they ran to tell the center's employees. The bookbinders, manuscript restorers and security guards who work for the institute broke down and cried.

    Just about the only person who didn't was Cisse, the acting director, who for months had harbored a secret. Starting last year, he and a handful of associates had conspired to save the documents so crucial to this 1,000-year-old town.

    In April, when the rebels preaching a radical version of Islam first rolled into this city swirling with sand, the institute was in the process of moving its collection into a new, state-of-the-art building. The fighters commandeered the new center, turning it into a dormitory for one of their units of foreign fighters, Cisse said. They didn't realize only about 2,000 manuscripts had been moved there, the bulk of the collection remaining at the old library, he said.

    The Islamists came in, as they did in Afghanistan, with their own, severe interpretation of Islam, intent on rooting out what they saw as the veneration of idols instead of the pure worship of Allah. During their 10-month-rule, they eviscerated much of the identity of this storied city, starting with the mausoleums of their saints, which were reduced to rubble.

    The turbaned fighters made women hide their faces and blotted out their images on billboards. They closed hair salons, banned makeup and forbade the music for which Mali is known.

    Their final act before leaving was to go through the exhibition room in the institute, as well as the whitewashed laboratory used to restore the age-old parchments. They grabbed the books they found and burned them.

    However, they didn't bother searching the old building, where an elderly man named Abba Alhadi has spent 40 of his 72 years on earth taking care of rare manuscripts. The illiterate old man, who walks with a cane and looks like a character from the Bible, was the perfect foil for the Islamists. They wrongly assumed that the city's European-educated elite would be the ones trying to save the manuscripts, he said.

    So last August, Alhadi began stuffing the thousands of books into empty rice and millet sacks.

    At night, he loaded the millet sacks onto the type of trolley used to cart boxes of vegetables to the market. He pushed them across town and piled them into a lorry and onto the backs of motorcycles, which drove them to the banks of the Niger River.

    From there, they floated down to the central Malian town of Mopti in a pinasse, a narrow, canoe-like boat. Then cars drove them from Mopti, the first government-controlled town, to Mali's capital, Bamako, over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from here.


    "I have spent my life protecting these manuscripts. This has been my life's work. And I had to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer protect them here," said Alhadi. "It hurt me deeply to see them go, but I took strength knowing that they were being sent to a safe place."

    It took two weeks in all to spirit out the bulk of the collection, around 28,000 texts housed in the old building covering the subjects of theology, astronomy, geography and more.

    There was nothing they could do, however, for the 2,000 documents that had already been transferred to the new library, to its exhibition and restoration rooms, and to a basement vault. Cisse took solace knowing that most of the texts in the new library had been digitized.

    Even so, when his staff came to tell him about the fire, he felt a constriction in his chest.

    The new library is housed inside a modern building, whose sheer walls are made to resemble the mud-walled homes of Timbuktu. Cisse braved his fear to slip through the back gate on the morning of Jan. 24.

    The alarm was still screaming. The empty manuscript boxes were strewn on the ground outside in the brick courtyard. All that was left of the books was a soft, feathery ash.

    Cisse then entered the library. The glass cases in the exhibit room were empty. So was the manuscript restoration lab, its white tables blanketed in dust. The manuscripts left out were gone.

    But the librarian knew the bulk of the books was in a storage room in the basement. With the alarm still screaming, he walked down the flight of pitch-black stairs.

    The room had been locked shut. And he was too afraid to open it, because the mayor of Timbuktu had warned residents that the retreating rebels had mined the town and booby-trapped strategic buildings.

    So he waited.

    On Jan. 28, a column of more than 600 French troops rolled into the city.

    The same day, they came to inspect the institute. They spraypainted in pink the word "OK" in front of each room they cleared, working their way to the basement. They pummeled the locked door. When the door slapped open, Cisse felt as if his chest was about to explode.

    They beamed a flashlight into the darkness. In the pools of light, he made out the little bundles of parchments sitting on the rafters. They were where they had left them nearly a year ago, in a room the Islamists had never discovered.

    The director-general of UNESCO toured the damaged library this weekend, alongside French President Francois Hollande, who made a triumphant visit to Timbuktu. She described the manuscripts as a global treasure. "They are part of our world heritage," said Irina Bokova. "They are important for all of Africa, as well as for all of the world."

    Cisse estimates that what was lost in the end is less than 5 percent of the Ahmed Baba collection. Which texts were burned is not yet known.

    He stresses that all the manuscripts, which date back over 700 years, are irreplaceable. They are hand-written in a variety of scripts, and include ornate illustrations embedded within the text.

    The collection is itself only a portion of the estimated 101,820 manuscripts stored in private libraries here, the product of the confluence of caravan routes which passed through Timbuktu and fostered an extensive trading network, including in books. Among the most valuable are the Tarikh al-Sudan and the Tarikh al-Fattash, chronicles which describe life in Timbuktu during the Songhai empire in the 16th century.

    "We lost a lot of our riches. But we were also able to save a great deal of our riches, and for that I am overcome with joy," Cisse said. "These manuscripts represent who we are.... I saved these books in the name of Timbuktu first, because I am from Timbuktu. . Then I did it for my country. And also for all of humanity. Because knowledge is for all of humanity."

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    Not sure if any other Imixers have been following the story about the libraries in particular, but this is just wonderful news.

    I was almost heartbroken when the news came out about the libraries being burned. It's one of the top goals on my list - to see the written history. So it was so exciting to read this. I hope it is accurate. God bless the people there.
    Ananci_7, Maruka, mz_JazE and 2 others like this.

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    Registered User A.K.K.S. is offline
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    Great to hear this, especially with all the warfare going on in Mali right now.

    Why can't you post more intelligent stuff like this?

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.K.K.S. View Post
    Great to hear this, especially with all the warfare going on in Mali right now.

    Why can't you post more intelligent stuff like this?
    Always have posting informational topics. Maybe if you look to be involved in more intelligent discussion and perhaps you would see these types of threads.

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    A few of us have been posting about the crisis in Mali since it started. However, such posts are easily buried. Thanks for the update, doll. Here's a site with some good commentary on the conflict.

    Search Results mali

    dollbabi likes this.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    Yes, Seawall. You and DSP did post threads on the matter. Since the burning, very little has been said about the outcome. Not that much of the world is concerned or anything. Thanks for the link.

    ETA: Honestly, the librarians, especially Abba Alhadi, deserve serious recognition for what they have done.

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    It's only African history.
    Who cares.

    If it was the Vatican now then we would have reason for concern.
    Say no to drugs.
    Smoke weed.

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    Registered Member VINCYPOWA's Avatar VINCYPOWA is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgeflash View Post
    It's only African history.
    Who cares.

    If it was the Vatican now then we would have reason for concern.
    What is so IMPORTANT about the VATICAN in your EYES and MIND?

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by dollbabi View Post
    Yes, Seawall. You and DSP did post threads on the matter. Since the burning, very little has been said about the outcome. Not that much of the world is concerned or anything. Thanks for the link.

    ETA: Honestly, the librarians, especially Abba Alhadi, deserve serious recognition for what they have done.
    Some of the corporate media entities such as the Wash Post, and the NY Times did carry stories about the manuscripts. NPR did a story on it also. What i find offensive is that there is usually a bias in favor of the Tuaregs. I've read stories about retaliation against them and Arabs (which should be denounced, if they are innocent), but the coverage of mainly Tuareg and Arab Islamicists' crimes went unpublished (though the media outlet that I work for ran some scant stories) for months. The story only picked up again in the media outlets when French and African troops retaliated. Look how little ink the long running bloodletting in the Congo has been getting.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by VINCYPOWA View Post
    What is so IMPORTANT about the VATICAN in your EYES and MIND?
    Seat of power and archivist of human history.
    All seeing.
    All knowing.
    Say no to drugs.
    Smoke weed.

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    Registered Member VINCYPOWA's Avatar VINCYPOWA is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgeflash View Post
    Seat of power and archivist of human history.
    All seeing.
    All knowing.
    You MIGHT be REFERRING to AFRICA in your STATEMENT and not about the VATICAN.

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    Registered User sankofaa's Avatar sankofaa is offline
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    Islam is like poision to the black race, always has been
    Mr_Crafty and Juan Dan like this.

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seawall View Post
    Some of the corporate media entities such as the Wash Post, and the NY Times did carry stories about the manuscripts. NPR did a story on it also. What i find offensive is that there is usually a bias in favor of the Tuaregs. I've read stories about retaliation against them and Arabs (which should be denounced, if they are innocent), but the coverage of mainly Tuareg and Arab Islamicists' crimes went unpublished (though the media outlet that I work for ran some scant stories) for months. The story only picked up again in the media outlets when French and African troops retaliated. Look how little ink the long running bloodletting in the Congo has been getting.
    Sounds about right. I would skim articles to get a better understanding but much of the information just seemed incomplete. SMH.


    Quote Originally Posted by sankofaa View Post
    Islam is like poision to the black race, always has been
    *SIGH* Ignorance is poison to the human race.

  14. #14
    Juan Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by sankofaa View Post
    Islam is like poision to the black race, always has been
    smartest thing I ever saw you write
    fok dem and the sell out blaks dat work wid dem and have done so for hundreds of years
    all in a plan to wipe the people from history
    big tred

  15. #15
    Juan Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seawall View Post
    Some of the corporate media entities such as the Wash Post, and the NY Times did carry stories about the manuscripts. NPR did a story on it also. What i find offensive is that there is usually a bias in favor of the Tuaregs. I've read stories about retaliation against them and Arabs (which should be denounced, if they are innocent), but the coverage of mainly Tuareg and Arab Islamicists' crimes went unpublished (though the media outlet that I work for ran some scant stories) for months. The story only picked up again in the media outlets when French and African troops retaliated. Look how little ink the long running bloodletting in the Congo has been getting.
    so why hal sharkton or one of the billion blak pastors didnt say anything?

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