Jan 30, 2013

Destroy ancient Timbuktu texts and the Mali game changes

Wars and massacres may or may not demand intervention. But when insurgents destroy irreplaceable ancient manuscripts, as in Mali, there's a particular case for collective involvement.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Timbuktu, ah, who has not wanted to visit Timbuktu? To Europeans during the scramble for Africa during the late 19th century, it was the image of the exotic, the furthest point from anywhere — out in the desert, that paradoxical thing, an ancient African city. A glance at the map appears to suggest that it is still thus — the inland north-west corner of Africa seems the last genuinely remote place on the planet.

Years ago, when the yearning got too much, I inquired of a travel agent the means to get there. “Well most flights land at the international airport,” I was told.

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One thought on “Destroy ancient Timbuktu texts and the Mali game changes

  1. James Seaford

    According to an AFP report on Wednesday, “most of the priceless ancient books and manuscripts housed in a Timbuktu centre were smuggled away before Islamists overran the city last year,” an associate curator Shamil Jeppie, Tombouctou Manuscripts Project director at the University of Cape Town, claims. He said about 90% of them have been saved.

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