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Timbuktu Manuscripts

Updated on December 19, 2017

Saving Timbuktu's Ancient Manuscripts

In mid January 2013, France initiated a military invasion of Mali. Supposedly to suppress the Islamist Rebels gathering in the north and agitating to start their own state.

In the meantime, the fate of the many ancient Manuscripts located in Timbuktu are hanging in the balance. Stories were issued claiming that the Libraries were being burned by the Rebels. These stories thankfully turned out to be false.

Image Source - Bamako, Mali - A copyist carefully copies the Timbuktu Manuscripts - Christian Science Monitor - December 2012

The Treasures of Timbuktu

A hand copied arabic manuscript from Timbuktu
A hand copied arabic manuscript from Timbuktu

Timbuktu was known as a major centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries. Some 700,000 manuscripts have survived to the present day in public libraries and private collections. These books cover a wide range of subjects including religion, law, literature and science.

In 1988, Timbuktu was added to the World Heritage list under UNESCO protection. There are three medieval mosques and 16 cemeteries and mausoleums which are protected. These mosques were heavily involved in spreading Islam across the Sahara to western Africa. The oldest mosque has been dated back to 1329 CE.

Information source - See Section - Treasures of Timbuktu

Image Source - Smithsonian Magazine -The last working Copyist is diligently trying to save Timbuktu's Manuscripts.

Timbuktu Manuscripts

Maliâs Culture War - The Fate of the Timbuktu Manuscripts
Maliâs Culture War - The Fate of the Timbuktu Manuscripts

In January 2013 a flurry of reports came out of Mali saying that the Islamist Rebels had burned many of the ancient manuscripts and libraries in Timbuktu.

It turns out that the media lied and that most of these reports are simply not true. Many of these manuscripts were actually removed from Timbuktu back in April of 2012 after the Islamists took over control of the town. Many of these manuscripts were taken to Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Below (listed under News Resources) are some of these reports about the burning of the Timbuktu manuscripts.

What makes it different this time, in 2013, is the fact that France decided to unilaterally invade and take control of Mali. The question is - Why?

Well France SAYS they are taking control to rid Mali of the Islamist and Al-Qaeda rebels.That may well be true - but their REAL reason for the French invasion has got to be because Mali has vast untapped gold and oil resources and France is in desperate need of gold to repay those countries demanding their gold deposits back.

Image Source - Mali's Culture War - The Fate of the Timbuktu Manuscripts

The Tuareg people


The Tuareg people of the Sahara desert have been a nomadic people for thousands of years.

But in the last century they have taken to settling down in one location and are now surviving by farming and raising animals. They don't use currency but barter their excess produce for whatever trade goods they require.

The Tuareg are a proud people. They are also called the Blue Men of the Desert due to the blue indigo dyed clothing they wear. They have fiercely resisted French colonial rule - which is part of the reason why this new conflict has arisen.

When the colonial powers abatrarily divided up the Sahara into political entities known as countries, they made no allowances for the Tuareg people.

So because of the arrogance of the colonial powers (mostly France, Italy and Britain) the Tuareg people have no home. Thus the Proud Tuareg have literally been made a stateless people.

In this the 21st century, NOONE is helping them. They are now some of the poorest people on earth, despite having a long and proud history.

Image Source - These Tuareg men are from Gao in Mali

Imshuradj People without a Country

Map of Mali
Map of Mali

Why France Invaded

The Tuareg people have demanded a home state several times since Mali became independent from France in 1960. It just so happens that the northern part of Mali has vast untapped deposits of Oil and Gold.

Back in January 2012, the Tuareg people declared the Northern half of Mali to be their new state. They named it AZAWAD. Azawad as a state was never recognised by the rest of the world.

The Tuareg people had needed the help of a group called Ansar Dine, in order to claim their victory in Northern Mali. Over the next few months the 2 groups began a new conflict. In June 2012, another islamic group swept in to take up the void. This new group is called MUJWA (the J stands for Jihad) and they are demanding that Sharia Law be reinstated throughout western Africa.

By September 2012, Militant soldiers from Ansar Dine and Mujwa had taken over control of various towns in western and northern Mali - namely Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. The West (mostly France and USA) has claimed that MUJWA has connections with Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) but I dont think there is any such connection. It's just a convenient means to keep using that name to keep the public scared.

In January 2013, the French Military invaded the West African country of Mali, under the guise of getting rid of these Islamist Militants. The French Defence Minister has even said - The goal is the total reconquest of Mali. We will not leave any pockets [of resistance].

The western world (particularly Europe and the USA) desperately need more gold to prop up their financial systems. Especially since some countries such as Germany and Venezuela have begun demanding all their gold deposits to be repatriated back to the home country. The banks of France and USA do not have sufficient gold to fulfill these requests.

Image Source - Map of Mali


All Hail Azawad - Mali 20122
All Hail Azawad - Mali 20122

Do you feel the Tuareg people should be granted their own political state?

See results

Why France has invaded Mali

January 14, 2013 - France Invades Mali

January 14, 2013 - On the ground in Mali for the French Invasion

May 2012 - Inside Story - Al Jazeera TV

January 13, 2013 - Inside Story - Al Jazeera TV

All Wars are Bankers Wars - Michael Rivero

All Wars are Bankers Wars - by Michael Rivero. February 2013

The REAL Reason why France has invaded Mali.

The German government recently asked for the return of some of their gold bullion from the Bank of France and the New York Federal Reserve. France has said it will take 5 years to return Germany's gold. The United States has said they will need 8 years to return Germany's gold. This suggests strongly that the Bank of France and the NY Federal Reserve have used the deposited gold for other purposes, and they are scrambling to find new gold to cover the shortfall and prevent a gold run.

So it is inevitable that suddenly France invades Mali, ostensibly to combat Al Qaeda, with the US joining in. Mali just happens to be one of the world's largest gold producers with gold accounting for 80% of Mali exports. War for the bankers does not get more obvious than that!

Text Copyright to Mike Rivero - WRH - but freely available to be copied and spread around the Internet.

Your turn to discuss -- What do you think will happen to Timbuktu - Have you read about the Timbuktu Manuscripts before?

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    • profile image

      chi kung 

      8 years ago

      I don't approve of the "Western countries" invading other countries but neither do I approve of the inhuman, intolerant islamist oppression that is taking place at different parts of the world

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This has not received enough media attention. You would think that national treasuries like libraries and museums would be off-limits during military conflicts. Unfortunately, they are often the first targets. It's a way of undermining the civilization itself. This is why so little information of the Mayan culture remains.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow - this was extremely informative. Thank you so much for bringing light to this! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      8 years ago

      I am so glad that you have written a lens about this topic - and such a well-researched lens too. I heard about this on NPR, and I couldn't believe the level of my outrage and sadness. I thought "there are genocides and wars going on, why are you so concerned about these manuscripts?" I think the answer is that it is just wanton destruction of something priceless. I pinned this lens to my boards : Politics and also "This I want you to know - and sent it out by digg and g+.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      8 years ago


    • Iftikhar-Hussain profile image


      8 years ago

      very interesting lens .. I enjoying reading it .. Thanks for share :)


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