While ‘the west’ seems to be gearing up for a new decade of war in Africa, this sad loss to our collective human history archive was discovered today in Timbuktu.
As French troops entered the fabled city accompanied by Sky News reporter, Alex Crawford, they witnessed what appeared to be the remains of torched documents at the recently built archives. The archives contained manuscripts from as early as the 13th century. Rare, and priceless these thousands of documents were being painstakingly digitized, analysed, catalogued and translated by a small team of graduate students (click here for more).
It is unclear how much of the treasure was burnt by the Islamic militants as they fled in front of the attacking French force. The report claims the fighters called the manuscripts un-islamic, despite them being legal, historical & religious tracts written in arabic script, although in local languages, and housed at the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Islamic Studies and Research. At this early stage the extent of the loss cannot be verified and there are rumours that some archives may have been spirited away for safe-keeping.
See the video here via Sky News: