Last night, Erin Burnett of CNN’s OUTFRONT reported from Timbuktu Mali, that the Islamic Fundamentalists that now control all of northern Mali have started burning the ancient manuscripts in the family held public libraries. She reports from unconfirmed eye witnesses that the manuscripts are being removed from the largest public library of ancient manuscripts and burned as part of the shariah law being put in place in northern Mali by the rebels in control.
Over an eighteen month period, beginning in October 2006, four trips to Mali were made for an Islamic manuscript digitization and preservation project. You can read about it here. The project was a collaboration between the Mellon funded Aluka project, now a part of JSTOR, SAVAMA-ONG, and the NUIT Advanced Media Production Studio. Some of the images from the project pages were from manuscripts documented at the same library mentioned in Erin Burnett’s CNN video report.
It is very sad that these great cultural treasures are now in such dire and direct danger to being lost forever.
The field recording of the call to prayer, available on these pages, was made at four in the morning during a January night in 2007 from the roof of the hotel where we stayed in Timbuktu.
“This recording was made at 4AM on January 16 and 17 from the roof of La Maison Hotel in Timbuktu. It was mixed down into its final form by Chris Ostertag. It is hard, perhaps impossible, to describe the overall impression of sitting on a desert roof, wrapped in a blanket in the Sahara winter night, watching the stars whirl overhead, with both the close and distant mosques announcing the faithful to prayer.”