Camel Riders in the Desert of Timbuktu (2011) by Festival au DesertTimbuktu Renaissance
M is for Mali
Timbuktu is a city fabled to exist at the edge of the world, where the southern stretches of the Sahara desert end and a world of rich scholarly tradition, architectural wonder, and abound artistic creativity begins. In reality, it’s located in the West African country of Mali, a place filled to the brim with culture to explore.
Destruction de manuscrits par les djihadistes à l'Institut Ahmed Baba à Tombouctou en 2012SAVAMA-DCI
Mali’s story has often been told with attention to the violence and political unrest the nation has experienced, namely the 2012 coup and subsequent ten-month Jihadist occupation. But the Malian people have not let their culture become a victim of destruction.
Timbuktu 20 by UNESCOUNESCO World Heritage
Get to know the cornerstones of Malian culture through the four M’s…
Quran manuscript close upSAVAMA-DCI
M is for Manuscripts
Timbuktu’s literary history represents a key pillar of the cultural legacy that Mali has inherited and preserved over the centuries. Erudite knowledge of the Islamic world, mainly of the 14th to 16th centuries, was documented in beautiful script on decorated folios known today as the Timbuktu manuscripts.
Conservation de manuscrits dans des malles avant le déménagementSAVAMA-DCI
Though the known texts number around 377,000 pages, the manuscripts owe their survival to the individual families and households of Timbuktu who have safeguarded them for centuries, and to the people who evacuated them to safety after extremists seized the city.
Manuscript scanningInstruments for Africa
The manuscripts are now under the protection of SAVAMA-DCI, the guardians of the manuscripts, who seek to document digitize the artefacts that remain while maintaining Mali’s tradition of academic study.
Khaira Arby Performs at the Festival Au Désert (2012) by Festival au DésertTimbuktu Renaissance
M is for Monuments
A third layer of Mali’s unique cultural landscape is made up of its mosques, mausoleums and monuments.
A crowd in front of the Great Mosque of DjennéInstruments for Africa
These structures are not just iterations of historic mud architectural styles and commemorations of past events; they are kept alive by the communities who have maintained for centuries and the efforts to restore them after their recent destruction by those attempting to shake the foundations of Malian culture and identity.
Several factors, from political unrest and the end of tourism to globalization and pollution, put Mali’s monuments, and its culture at large, at risk. Exploring monuments like the Great Mosque of Djenne in 3D, or the Great Mosque of Niono in Street View, it’s clear that this built heritage is worth protecting and preserving.
Dramane Toloba artworksInstruments for Africa
Ange DakouoInstruments for Africa
Painters, sculptors, and mixed-media creators reflect the colour and chaos that they see in the world around them, entwining Mali’s expressive culture with their own unique perspectives, ambitions and explorations.
Opa Bathily and his artworkInstruments for Africa
Addressing the difficulties and destruction that Mali has endured throughout both recent and colonial history, the country’s art scene might represent a space in which Mali’s past can be processed and, through culture and creativity, a future can be rebuilt.
Opa Bathily artwork1Instruments for Africa
“The day we admit that we lost everything for the profit of others; that day we can truly begin to rediscover ourselves,” says Malian contemporary artist Amadou Sanogo.