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Gifted American Photographer Documents Grandeur, Plight of Mali’s Fabled Timbuktu
Timbuktu is a city that has captured the imagination of the West. It is located on the Niger River, which is well known between the sandy deserts of North Africa and the green, wet, fertile areas of tropical and subtropical Africa, the lush forests we associate with the Congo and the hot equatorial sun.
Timbuktu is also heavily concentrated in English. Even young children talk about Timbuktu in the sense of “as far from where I am now as I can get.” And some of its charm, too, comes from the euphony of the words: “Timbuktu” rolls off the tongue. We also definitely talk about “Sub-Saharan Africa” as if it were a name. Isn’t that a strange thing to do? Can we call the United States and Mexico “Sub-Canadian America”?
Timbuktu has a critical need for its isolation because it has functioned for thousands of years as a gateway between the deserts and jungles of Africa. It’s that passage he was travel, when camels and canoes were the main vehicles of Africa, from North Africa to sub-Saharan Africa – and back. It continued to serve this purpose well into the 20th century, and it still does today, figuratively speaking.
Due to its critical location as a gateway to the south, Arab traders and preachers from the seventh and eighth centuries onwards made Timbuktu a very important place. Its two great mosques are magnificent, and the Islamic libraries of Timbuktu are comparable in size to those of Baghdad and Cairo.
Although it was not unusual for conflicts for centuries, Timbuktu today is in great danger, dangers, dangers that it has never faced before. Timbuktu may be in danger to be destroyed because the Muslim forces are fighting the surrounding areas and the city itself.
These soldiers, with their fanatical zeal, have already destroyed ancient tombs that commemorate the final resting place of Sufi saints, who are now considered “idolatrous” by Ansar Dine, an extremist group. Twelve sacred tombs have already been destroyed.
Worse still, Timbuktu’s ancient libraries, home to a priceless collection of Islamic manuscripts estimated by the UNESCO World Heritage Center to number 300,000, (including early Islamic textbooks in mathematics and science — treasures not only found in religious tracts ). in danger of being burned or destroyed.
These precious texts are irreplaceable. Some of them are only written once, unique to the scrolls. Destroy one book in Timbuktu and there are no sister copies in Cairo or Baghdad that can preserve its wisdom. Although some of the scrolls have been moved to safe storage, most are still in Timbuktu, where imams have kept them for centuries. But imams have never faced the threat they are facing today.
And yet these books are scrolls he can be saved both in real and as digital copies — if there was a will and a way shown by many countries that made this a global priority. One of the problems is that the tragedy facing Timbuktu is not widely known in Europe and America.
And now comes the young American artist and writer, Alexandra Huddleston, who has devoted a large part of the last eight years of her life, writing beautiful pictures and moving words, the terrible threat that Timbuktu is facing, its living people and its people. living wealth. He has put all his works in a book, a book that will put you in prison.
His 96-page text has a title “The 333 Saints: Academic Life in Timbuktu” and it tells the story of a city besieged — no less a way to describe it — by Islamists who are obsessed with killing people and killing a few notes. With the help of her Fulbright, Alexandra Huddleston tells in pictures and words the story of Timbuktu’s long tradition of Islamic learning, and how this learning is now more vulnerable than ever.
In a brief summary written to the Kickstarter campaign, Huddleston says that his book “tells a story of discovery, a rich and beautiful culture of African wisdom that is little known in the West. It is a book about men and women who love books. — scholars of all generations who seek knowledge and wisdom through education. It belongs to a city that has made itself known for its culture of education.”
Alexandra Huddleston is of African descent, the daughter of Foreign Service parents and lives in Sierra Leone. Although he spent a lot of time in Washington, DC, he traveled a lot around the world and fell in love with Mali, this amazing home of many beautiful people that is very hidden south of the Sahara, a country that has a gentle touch. , also, in its southern parts, Africa has green moisture.
Alexandra was introduced to Mali by her mother Vicki Huddleston, who had two stints at the US Embassy in Mali, first as a political and economic officer at the beginning of her career and later as an ambassador. Vicki Huddleston began her travels abroad as a young Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, so Alexandra’s love of remote and difficult places seems to be deep in her DNA.
work Alexandra Huddleston “Saints 333: Academic Life in Timbuktu” should be approached by American and European readers with urgent awareness, because there is a real risk of cultural extinction here, the permanent loss of the resources that help us know who we are. There is also a wealth of science here, which dates back to the time when Islamic science overcame the backward European education of the Middle Ages.
Many in this country were horrified when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in central Afghanistan twelve years ago, using the same “ideology” (that they are idolaters) that are now being directed against Sufi saints. Timbuktu and Islamic libraries.
But what is happening in Timbuktu is much more complicated, because manuscripts contain human thoughts, history, ideas, and knowledge more than stone sculptures can. Where is the anger that is needed now?
Anyone who loves Africa will love this book. And by focusing on the great problem of Timbuktu, maybe a solution can be found that will preserve this human heritage for those who come after, who will do this wealth wisely.
Read more about Alexandra Huddleston and “333 Saints: a Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu” at:
Buy this book at:
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