Quoting: Anonymous Coward 26309171
The city of Timbuktu in northern Mali is not only home to historic mosques and sacred tombs, but also an enormous collection of old manuscripts that illustrate the rich intellectual history of the region. All of this is now under threat from a wave of barbarism by salafists Arabs who have seized control of northern Mali.
European historians long claimed that Africa had no written history or intellectual tradition and that the first light of civilisation arrived there with the European colonisation. But if there is one city in Africa that dispels this White myth, it is Timbuktu.
Centre of intellectual life
This city on the northernmost part of the river Niger, at the edge of the Sahara, was a thriving centre of commerce from the 13th century. There, merchants traded in gold, salt and other commodities. Europeans first arrived to the city in the 19th century, but historians like explorer Ibn Battuta described the city with admiration some five hundred years earlier.
Timbuktu is best known for its historic mosques and mausoleums, where Sufi saints are entombed. But only recently did people realize that, aside from a centre of trade, the city was also a significant centre of intellectual life. In the late 1990s, an international research team found a number of private libraries where prominent families from Timbuktu kept tens of thousands of medieval manuscripts. Written in various African languages and Arabic, the manuscripts showed the world that 13th-century West African scholars were deeply engaged in the study of religious subjects but also logic, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and natural sciences.