Tumbutuis an ancient city in Malisituated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Regionone of the eight administrative regions of Mali. It had a population of 54, in the census. Starting out as a seasonal settlement, Timbuktu became a permanent settlement early in the 12th century.
Transcript Audio A world of knowledge was nearly lost forever amid the al-Qaida occupation in Timbuktu five years ago. Many were burnt, but thousands of ancient manuscripts were smuggled away and saved, and now are being digitized. And yet time and money to finish the project is running out as other threats loom.
Special correspondent Monica Villamizar reports from Mali. Read the Full Transcript Amna Nawaz: Now,to the African nation of Mali and the ongoing efforts to preserve priceless records of the past from the library of the fabled city of Timbuktu. The city was overrun in by al-Qaida, who destroyed manuscripts dating back centuries.
The militants are now gone, but the turmoil remains. And time may be running out to save these irreplaceable documents. From Timbuktu, special correspondent Monica Villamizar reports.
These people are saving a world of knowledge, a world nearly lost forever. They are digitizing tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts rescued from near destruction during the al-Qaida occupation of Timbuktu five years ago. Al-Qaida destroyed monuments and libraries that were seven centuries old.
The militants implemented Sharia law, and banned anything considered sinful, like the manuscripts, which were seen as pagan writings.
Despite the deadly conflict, Abdel Kader Haidara managed to save aroundbooks. Abdel Kader Haidara through translator: We smuggled the manuscripts out very slowly, little by little, over a period of six months. We brought them to Bamako.
We also stockpiled them in small boats about five miles outside of Timbuktu and took them miles away. Haidara, whose family also owns an important collection of manuscripts, has digitized 20 percent of nearlydocuments. The originals are kept in this room, classified by family and year.
They deal with myriad subjects, astronomy and physics, politics and magic. These gentlemen you see are reading page by page of each book, and they are making notes, like a summary of what it says. But time is running out. Timbuktu and Northern Mali, still plagued by conflict, remains a no-go area.
There is an urgency because we have used 20 percent of the funds already. These books are relics. Some date back to the 13th century, and have survived for more than years.
This one was a little bit damaged by water. The fabled city of Timbuktu is an oasis of culture in the middle of the desert. For centuries, it served as the main transit point of the trans-Saharan caravans. Here, it can feel like time has stopped. The noble houses of Timbuktu have been holding book readings for decades, a sort of ancient version of book clubs.
The men place books on their forehead, symbolizing the transfer of knowledge. And an imam or other spiritual authority explains the meaning of the mostly-religious texts. Ben Essayouti through translator: It was the base to spread Arab culture and Islam to black Africa.Educational institutions generated what became known as the “Manuscripts of Timbuktu.” Among the Manuscripts were prayer books, writings on Mohammed’s moral teachings, texts in many languages (Arabic, Greek, Latin), essays, correspondence, poetry, literature, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Malian scholars, librarians and ordinary citizens in the rebel-occupied city of Timbuktu are hiding away priceless ancient manuscripts to prevent them from being damaged or looted, a South African academic in contact with them said.
BBC World Service radio news reported on 29 January that approximately 28, of the manuscripts in the Institute had been removed to safety from the premises before the attack by the Islamist groups, and that the whereabouts of about 2, manuscripts remained unknown.
By Olivia Snaije. Conservationists breathed a sigh of relief in late January when French and Malian soldiers confirmed that the majority of the ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu that were thought to have been burned by Ansar Dine militants were in fact, safe. The largest single collection of manuscripts in Timbuktu - about 18, of them - is housed at the Ahmed Baba Institute.
The rest are scattered throughout the city’s many private libraries and collections (like the Imam Essayouti, Al Aquib, and Al Wangara manuscript libraries).
The library was burned down, it contained over 20, manuscripts with only a fraction of them having been scanned as of January Before and during the occupation, more than , Timbuktu Manuscripts from the Institute and from private libraries were saved and moved to more secure locations.