A Tragedy: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts
Timbuktu was one of the main centres of Arab learning in Africa. The library of Timbuktu owned numerous manuscripts and scrolls. They were the impressive proof that "black Africa" did not only have an oral, but a powerful written history.
"The manuscripts had survived for centuries in Timbuktu, on the remote south-west fringe of the Sahara desert. They were hidden in wooden trunks, buried in boxes under the sand and in caves. When French colonial rule ended in 1960, Timbuktu residents held preserved manuscripts in 60-80 private libraries.
The vast majority of the texts were written in Arabic. A few were in African languages, such as Songhai, Tamashek and Bambara. There was even one in Hebrew. They covered a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women's rights. The oldest dated from 1204."
Now the library had been burnt down by rebels, before the French troops reached Timbuktu. It is irreparable loss: "The manuscripts were a part not only of Mali's heritage but the world's heritage."