Arab Today, arab today protecting timbuktu\s manuscripts\ secret
Last Updated : GMT 06:58:52
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Protecting Timbuktu\'s manuscripts\' secret

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Protecting Timbuktu\'s manuscripts\' secret

Bamako - AFP

Though armed Islamists have left their town, the grand old families of Timbuktu are still wary of revealing the secret of how they safeguarded thousands of ancient manuscripts from destruction by extremists. Before they fled the fabled desert town in northern Mali at the end of January, the Islamists sacked part of the public Ahmed Baba Centre library, burning some 3,000 documents they considered sacrilegious. It was their second attempt to harm Timbuktu\'s rich cultural heritage, after destroying the mausoleums of 11 saints there in April last year. In mid-February, the UN cultural body UNESCO announced an action plan worth 10 million dollars (7.5 million euros) to restore the cultural heritage of northern Mali and preserve manuscripts that attest to the intellectual and spiritual flourishing of Timbuktu -- listed a world heritage site -- in the 15th and 16th centuries.Unlike the Ahmed Baba Centre, about 30 private libraries in the ancient town were spared by the Islamists. For several months, their owners had dispersed their collections to put them in safe places, as their ancestors did in the past. When the Islamists entered Timbuktu last April, Ismael Diadie Haidara al-Quti, a descendant of Mali\'s imperial Askia family and of Ali al-Quti, a Visigoth from Toledo in Spain who converted to Islam, fled with his family and took a dozen manuscripts with him. \"We hid them among clothes and embarked on a boat to head down the river towards the south,\" said his wife Hawa Toure, manager of the Mahmud Kati (al-Quti) Fund, the main private library in Timbuktu, which keeps almost 13,000 recorded manuscripts. \"Afterwards, we looked for people who could help us, ordinary people who were not being watched. They bought caskets and keys. Some of them fled with the caskets by boat, others buried them in the sand.\"Hawa added that her husband, who has been in Spain for several months, was the only person to know \"who hid the manuscripts and how to get them back\". It is not the first time Ismael al-Quti\'s precious collection has had to be smuggled to safety. \"Our library has already suffered four dispersals in five centuries, since my ancestor fled Toledo in 1467 until the last dispersal in the 19th century to protect manuscripts from the fundamentalists of the Peul kingdom of Massina\" in central Mali, he told AFP by telephone. \"Unfortunately in 2012, we again found ourselves forced to disperse them. It\'s like pushing a stone up a mountain and watching it roll down again,\" he added.At 55, Ismael, a renowned historian, poet and philosopher, has spent almost a third of his life looking to retrieve these scattered treasures to bring them together in a library that opened in 2003, with the help of Spanish government aid. \"Our manuscripts are mostly Korans, but there are also legal and scientific texts on mathematics, astronomy and medicine... The special feature of these writings -- in Arabic, in Peul, in English or in French -- is the annotations made in the margins,\" al-Quti said. Some of these notes are even concealed within the covers of the texts. \"They are family secrets, rulings, but also sometimes indications that enable \'the keeper of the secret\' to find hidden manuscripts again,\" said his wife Hawa, now a refugee with her children in a working class district of the capital, Bamako.\"Today, nobody will tell you where he has hidden manuscripts\", the 45-year-old added in a gentle voice. \"If families had agreed, like the ministry and aid donors wanted, to put the manuscripts at the disposal of the Ahmed Baba Centre, they would all be lost.\" \"We\'re back in the time of secrecy,\" her husband said. \"When I decided to create this library, a part of the family said \'No, it\'s dangerous.\' But as a historian, I felt they should be displayed. Alas, now I ask myself if my family wasn\'t right.\" Funds alone will not save the manuscripts from being destroyed or trafficked abroad in the future and sold, said al-Quti, who was sceptical of the UN action plan. \"UNESCO should rethink its heritage policy.\"\"It\'s not just money that is needed. UNESCO should directly involve the librarians and define a legal, administrative and security framework. If they don\'t do that, they will fail again,\" he warned. In the meantime, al-Quti will keep the location of his manuscripts secret. \"For five centuries our library has faced upheavals. We\'re in no hurry.\"

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today protecting timbuktu\s manuscripts\ secret Arab Today, arab today protecting timbuktu\s manuscripts\ secret

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Prepares to present her new collection

GMT 14:29 2017 Monday ,20 February

Prepares to present her new collection
Arab Today, arab today Tourism shows signs of recovery

GMT 09:59 2017 Monday ,20 February

Tourism shows signs of recovery
Arab Today, arab today Sarah Belamesh designs antiques of "ceramic"

GMT 19:45 2017 Monday ,20 February

Sarah Belamesh designs antiques of "ceramic"
Arab Today, arab today At least 14 killed in Philippine bus crash

GMT 06:58 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

At least 14 killed in Philippine bus crash
Arab Today, arab today Murder of 2 reporters in Dominican Republic

GMT 22:45 2017 Thursday ,16 February

Murder of 2 reporters in Dominican Republic
View News in Arabic - Culture: أخبار الثقافة والفنون
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Kidogo provides childcare for underserved

GMT 20:24 2017 Wednesday ,15 February

Kidogo provides childcare for underserved
Arab Today, arab today Tragic fluctuations of Bakhtiari's life revealed

GMT 06:50 2017 Wednesday ,15 February

Tragic fluctuations of Bakhtiari's life revealed
Arab Today, arab today London to tax old cars

GMT 14:06 2017 Friday ,17 February

London to tax old cars
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today Nissan enhances sales in most markets

GMT 14:08 2017 Monday ,20 February

Nissan enhances sales in most markets
Arab Today, arab today Competes Sweden and Germans by S90

GMT 22:36 2017 Thursday ,16 February

Competes Sweden and Germans by S90
Arab Today, arab today Ahmed Fahmy stresses he did not ignore singing

GMT 06:34 2017 Sunday ,19 February

Ahmed Fahmy stresses he did not ignore singing
Arab Today, arab today Teach monkeys to recognize themselves in mirror

GMT 20:41 2017 Wednesday ,15 February

Teach monkeys to recognize themselves in mirror

GMT 21:11 2017 Saturday ,18 February

Egypt to hold first session of Arab film festival

GMT 06:40 2017 Friday ,10 February

MP calls for removing text from Islamic story

GMT 19:10 2017 Friday ,17 February

Hats, scarves add beauty to women

GMT 10:26 2017 Tuesday ,14 February

Emergency UN meeting in Harare

GMT 23:29 2017 Thursday ,16 February

Home built on sand castles-style costs $8m

GMT 14:51 2017 Monday ,20 February

Ways to acquire presentation skills

GMT 19:16 2017 Friday ,17 February

Aziz House ready to host the tourists

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 12:39 2017 Monday ,20 February

newest smartphone another winner for Huawei

GMT 13:16 2017 Tuesday ,14 February

First fashion model with Down syndrome
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday