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Timeline of Events in Mali

22 June 2012

By Susana Molins Lliteras

Below is a timeline of events in Mali since the resurgence of a Tuareg rebellion.  The 1960s various Tuareg movements have mobilized and made appeals for autonomy and even independence. In this most recent insurgency the rebels were emboldened by well-trained and equipped fighters who left Libya after the overthrow and death of Colonel Gaddafi in October 2011. After a few months they found themselves in Malian territory and following a few engagements with Malian armed forces, whom they easily beat, they captured the important towns of the North of the country.

Workshop Report: “West African Manuscripts: Encyclopaedic Dimension of Study”

19 June 2012

On 22 March 2012, the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CMSC) of the University of Hamburg hosted the international workshop entitled “West African Manuscripts: Encyclopaedic Dimension of Study”.

Introducing preservation for paper-based heritage library and archive collections.

15 June 2012

Historical library and archives collections contain large numbers of documents composed of a wide range of organic materials: paper, cloth, thread, adhesives and a variety of animal skins.  These materials undergo a continual and inevitable natural ageing process that can be retarded, but never completely halted, by taking a variety of measures to ensure the preservation of their collections. What needs to be appreciated is that the damage that occurs to paper-based collections is irreversible and cumulative.

Scientists worry about safety of literary gems in Timbuktu

17 April 2012

The ancient African manuscripts of Timbuktu seem to have survived the capture of the city at the weekend by Tuareg and other rebels trying to topple the new military government of Mali. Rantobeng Mokou, SA’s ambassador to Mali, said last night he had spoken to people in Timbuktu who told him the rebels had stolen cars, money and other goods from the SA-sponsored library holding many of the manuscripts. But he said they told him the manuscripts themselves had not been damaged so far. There are about 300 000 manuscripts, most written in Arabic script and some dating back to the 14th century, in Timbuktu on the fringes of the Sahara. For the past decade, the SA government has been contributing to the international effort to preserve, store and catalogue the manuscripts.

From Cape Town to Timbuktu: A Novice Traveller’s Reflections, Part 1

10 January 2012

I went to Timbuktu and I came back. I have a T-shirt to prove it. It says, “J’ etais a Timbouctou et je suis revenu” (I was in Timbuktu and I came back).  I have witnesses too, twelve of them. They were there. We were all there together, all twelve of us from South Africa and one person from Nigeria. Timbuktu is not just a myth; it is a real place where real people live. Some friends and colleagues laughed incredulously when I told them we were going to Timbuktu up until we left for Mali. They had grown up being told, “I’ll send you to Timbuktu,” when they were being naughty. Or when somebody had gone to an unimaginable place they were told, “So and so has gone to Timbuktu”. They really did not believe that Timbuktu existed. Well, I’ve been there now and what we saw and experienced was a lifetime’s education in a week. Here’s some of what I thought while we were there and after we came back.