Nairaland Forum

Welcome, Guest: Join Nairaland / Login / Trending / Recent / New
Stats: 1258115 members, 1696833 topics. Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2014 at 09:03 AM

The Timbuktu Manuscripts - Culture - Nairaland

Nairaland Forum / Nairaland / General / Culture / The Timbuktu Manuscripts (1823 Views)

Touareg Rebels And Islamists Destroy The Ancient Treasures Of Timbuktu (1) (2) (3) (4)

(0) (Reply) (Go Down)

The Timbuktu Manuscripts by Jen33(m): 5:16am On Jun 10, 2007
Discovery of Timbuktu Manuscripts puts an end to Western "Songs and Dance Theory" of African People. Greatest Find Since Dead-Sea Scrolls.





The Timbuktu manuscripts are a symbolic representation of the impact and influence of the early schools and universities ( XII-XVIth century) that existed in West Africa ( Timbuktu-Gao-Djenné-Kano). However, the manuscripts that remain in Timbuktu are only part of the intellectual heritage of West Africa. Many other manuscripts can be found in other locations in West Africa.

There are 700,000 manuscripts in Timbuktu and surroundings.

These manuscripts represent a turning point in the history of Africa and its people. The translation and publication of the manuscripts of Timbuktu will restore self-respect, pride, honor and dignity to the people of Africa and those descended from Africa; it will also obliterate the stereo-typical images of Tarzan and primitive savages as true representation of Africa and its civilization.

The manuscripts of Timbuktu are a living testimony of the highly advanced and refined civilization in Africa during the Middle Ages.

Before the European Renaissance, Timbuktu flourished as the greatest academic and commercial center in Africa. Great empires such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were proofs of the talents, creativity and ingenuity of the African people. The University of Timbuktu produced both Black African scholars and leaders of the highest rank, character and nobility.

Around the 12th century, the University of Timbuktu had an attendance of 25,000 students in a city which had a population of over 100,000 people.

The manuscripts of Timbuktu cover diverse subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, optics, astronomy, medicine, Islamic sciences, history, geography,  government legislation and treaties, jurisprudence and much more.

From the 10th century and onward, Timbuktu became an important port where goods from West Africa and North Africa were traded.

Goods coming from Mediterranean shores and salt were traded in Timbuktu for gold. The prosperity of the city attracted both black scholars, blacks merchants and Arabs traders from North Africa. Salt, books and gold were very much in demand at that time. Salt was came from Tegaza in the north, gold, from the immense gold mines of the Boure and Banbuk and books, were the refined work of the black scholars and scholars of the Sanhaja descent.

In fact, Leo Africanus, a historian of the XVIth century wrote about Timbuktu:

''There are many judges, doctors and clerics here, all receiving good salaries from King Askia Muhammad of the State of Songhay. He pays great respect to men of learning. There is a great demand for books, and more profit is made from the trade in books than from any other line of business.”

The manuscripts provide a written testimony to the skill of African scientists, in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, medicine and climatology in the Middle Ages.

The manuscripts point to the fact that Africa has a rich legacy of written history, contrary to popular opinion that oral tradition alone has preserved its heritage. This is important, given that written records are believed to be such crucial markers of civilisation.

By the 12th century, Timbuktu became a celebrated center of Islamic learning and a commercial establishment. Timbuktu had three universities and 180 Quranic schools. These universities were the Sankore University, Jingaray Ber University and Sidi Yahya University.

This was the golden age of Africa.

Books were not only written in Timbuktu, but they were also imported and copied there. There was an advanced local book copying industry in the city. The universities and private libraries contained unparalleled scholarly works. The famous scholar of Timbuktu Ahmad Baba who was among those forcibly exiled in Morocco claimed that his library of 1600 books had been plundered, and that his library, according to him, was one of the smaller in the city.


Sankore University


Restoration of the Manuscripts

South African involvement
South Africa came onto the scene when President Thabo Mbeki offered help to the Malian government to preserve the ancient scripts during a state visit in 2001. The two countries have now launched a trust fund to elicit funds from the public to preserve the continent's heritage.

An estimated R36-million is needed over a five-year period, both to upgrade the Ahmed Baba Centre and to finance the building of a new library equipped with the necessary technology to preserve the manuscripts.

The Timbuktu Manuscripts have been earmarked as the first official cultural project of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the socio-economic revival plan of the African Union. They have also become a South African Presidential Project, co-ordinated by the Presidency and the Department of Arts and Culture, through the National Archives in Pretoria.

South Africa is now sharing with Mali its own technical expertise on preserving ancient documents. According to project leader Dr Graham Dominy of the National archives, four Malians have just finished part of the  training process.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by ababda: 10:48pm On Nov 03, 2009
this is news that every african should know. i am surprise no one have commented on this trend!
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by beneli(m): 1:49pm On Nov 04, 2009
Interesting stuff really.

I understand that after it's decline, many europeans such as the man, Mungo Park, believed to have 'discovered' the river Niger came in search of Timbuctu's fabled riches. I wonder why little is spoken of this city and the era in Africa's history, which it represents. One can blame our writers whose role as the custodians of history must not be ignored. Other peoples would have come up with loads of writings and scripts (both fictional and non-fictional) aimed at engraving Timbuctu in our minds, so that it's history, culture and all that it represents is not lost to the future generations, and that it is not just associated with 'remoteness' and 'lack of civilisation' as it is today.

The other day, there was a programme on TV where a young Caucasian American gentleman came searching for the trail of Timbuctu's gold. The trail took him to Morocco where it is believed a lot of the gold was cartered to after the city was finally destroyed by the Arabs, where he found some gold coins in a jewellers shop that were said to be from Timbuctu. The young man, however acknowleged that Timbuctu's greatest treasure must have been it's books, hidden away in an attempt to save them by those who valued them. Many many thousands of treasures now left to decay, gradually under the sands of the ever encroaching sahara.

Sad isn't it, the way we allow our valuable things to be violated, discarded and then forgotten.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by ababda: 2:09pm On Nov 04, 2009
Sad isn't it, the way we allow our valuable things to be violated, discarded and then forgotten.



the sad thing beneli, many africans don't know about timbuktu. they brought into the idea mainly coming from europe that africans culture is only oral and relegated to singing and tribal dancing. needless to say, from their perspective the only african cultures that have merit is nile valley area or sometimes ethiopia, if they consider those countries as black. however, from the perspective of westerners and some africans alike, sub saharan africa is devoid of any past intellectual culture, but relegated to dancing, singing, primitive tribalism and superstitions. that is the image most outsiders have toward sub saharan africa.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by beneli(m): 2:46pm On Nov 04, 2009
ababda:

Sad isn't it, the way we allow our valuable things to be violated, discarded and then forgotten.

the sad thing beneli, many africans don't know about timbuktu. they brought into the idea mainly coming from europe that africans culture is only oral and relegated to singing and tribal dancing. needless to say, from their perspective the only african cultures that have merit is nile valley area or sometimes ethiopia, if they consider those countries as black. however, from the perspective of westerners and some africans alike, sub saharan africa is devoid of any past intellectual culture, but relegated to dancing, singing, primitive tribalism and superstitions. that is the image most outsiders have toward sub saharan africa.

That is the image outsiders want to retain of africa. And unfortunately, it is the image most of us 'sub saharan' africans have internalised about ourselves. That's why many of us seem so eager to treat the Caucasian and other lighter skinned peoples, as superiors, only to turn round and continue to hold ourselves down with the iron clutches of the rabid tribalism manifest in forums such as this one and in the political discourse of most african nations. A culture which only leaves us vulnerable to the 'altruistic' outsiders who are only to willing to come to our 'aid'. Sad, i say.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by Ikhilor(m): 12:19pm On Feb 10, 2010
These manuscripts represent the fact that Black people always were creative,wise,scholarly,intelligent and above all, magnificent.Those who say Africa has no history would be left biting their tongues,we have history and one to be proud of.Let,s do all we can to preserve those very great historical pasts that has contributed to bringing  us this far.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by rabzy: 2:18pm On Feb 11, 2010
Some people wud say this is just a borrowed islamic culture, that it is not of an african or sub-saharan african origin.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by ababda: 6:12pm On Feb 12, 2010
Some people wud say this is just a borrowed islamic culture, that it is not of an african or sub-saharan african origin

Rabzy: As you already know, that is europeans wishful thinking. Statements like this shows their jealousy of african cultures.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by rabzy: 12:42pm On Feb 15, 2010
ababda:

Some people wud say this is just a borrowed islamic culture, that it is not of an african or sub-saharan african origin

Rabzy: As you already know, that is europeans wishful thinking. Statements like this shows their jealousy of african cultures.



while it might be a european thinking but is it really a wishful thinking?
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by ababda: 6:14pm On Feb 15, 2010
Yes Rabzy it's really European wishful thinking. They would love to consider themselves the savour of barbarous African cultures, but the reality is not true. Besides the culture in the Sahara Sahel region, sophisticated African Civilization abound, such as the civilization of Kush which is southern Egypt and Northern Sudan, The Kingdom of Axum which is Ethiopia, and Eritrea, The[b] Swahili[/b] Kingdom in the east coast of Africa which traded with the Chinese during The 14th century. The Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia which rule the horn of Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsular, the Christian Nubian Kingdom of Faras, Alwa, and Makuria which ruled Northern Sudan and Upper Egypt Collectively. also the kingdom of Kanem Bornu which ruled what is now north eastern Nigeria, part of Niger, Chad, and parts of Libya, Benin in west Africa, and the Great Zimbabwe in Southern Africa and the Hausa states in Nigeria and Niger collectively to name a few. You sound like a very colonize person Rabzy, so i suggest you decolonize your mind.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by rabzy: 11:15am On Feb 16, 2010
ababda:

Yes Rabzy it's really European wishful thinking. They would love to consider themselves the savour of barbarous African cultures, but the reality is not true. Besides the culture in the Sahara Sahel region, sophisticated African Civilization abound, such as the civilization of Kush which is southern Egypt and Northern Sudan, The Kingdom of Axum which is Ethiopia, and Eritrea, The[b] Swahili[/b] Kingdom in the east coast of Africa which traded with the Chinese during The 14th century. The Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia which rule the horn of Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsular, the Christian Nubian Kingdom of Faras, Alwa, and Makuria which ruled Northern Sudan and Upper Egypt Collectively. also the kingdom of Kanem Bornu which ruled what is now north eastern Nigeria, part of Niger, Chad, and parts of Libya, Benin in west Africa, and the Great Zimbabwe in Southern Africa and the Hausa states in Nigeria and Niger collectively to name a few. You sound like a very colonize person Rabzy, so i suggest you decolonize your mind.

I know of all these Kingdoms my friend, i have read a lot about them, i never said we did not have our own type of civilization b4 the coming of white people, am from Edo state and i also know the history of my people with the portuguese and subsequently the English, i know about the civilization we had and what historians said about it. So am not colonized, i only commented on the timbuktu University and scholars, what i asked is whether it was originally subsaharan, i.e did it spring from here or it was brought by travelling scholars from the arab world?

You brought the european context into it, i never said europeans or arabs said questioned the originality of it, i am asking as an african born, bred and living here, that, is this timbuktu civilization originally sub-saharan?

Lets not allow the fear of being re-colonize or perceived to be neo-colonized prevent us from learning searching and probing
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by ababda: 1:42pm On Feb 16, 2010
The answer to your question rabzy is a resounding, Yes! Timbuktu is not necessarily a civilization but it was part of the kingdom of Mali and Songhai Empire. there is tons of information on the internet, why don't you research it yourself. here is a couple of links, enjoy

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sghi/hd_sghi.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songhai_Empire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNw_gPwsnIw&feature=related
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by rabzy: 6:35pm On Feb 17, 2010
ababda:

The answer to your question rabzy is a resounding, Yes! Timbuktu is not necessarily a civilization but it was part of the kingdom of Mali and Songhai Empire. there is tons of information on the internet, why don't you research it yourself. here is a couple of links, enjoy

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sghi/hd_sghi.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songhai_Empire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNw_gPwsnIw&feature=related

i have been reading about these empires since i was 12. The great mansa musa whose trip to mecca with so much gold, that the price of Gold fell for over a decade after he had left is still a hero to me. This civilization was great and if not the greatest of all the Subsaharan Empires, but as you can see from the timbuktu manuscript which has arabic alphabets and also from the links provided, these Kings were Muslims. the knowledge of science, physics, medicine mostly came from the muslim scholars from the arabian peninsular and the north of Africa.

This to me does not take anything away from the greatness of this Empire, everybody copies from everybody, the european renaissance scholars from Arabic books, the arabs from the greeks/romans, the romans from greeks, greeks from egyptians, egyptians from kush/nubia/ethiopia etc.

But we cannot deny the fact that the timbuktu civilization has its source of enlightenment mainly from arabic scholars.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by Nobody: 1:49am On Feb 18, 2010
^^ you're looking at the issue the wrong way.


here's a quote from wiki:

Timbuktu's long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization is scholarship. Timbuktu is assumed to have had one of the first universities in the world. Local scholars and collectors still boast an impressive collection of ancient Greek texts from that era. By the 14th century, important books were written and copied in Timbuktu, establishing the city as the centre of a significant written tradition in Africa.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbuktu


The Arab world owes quite a lot to (subsaharan) Africa. This is a fact generally not noted in public.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by rabzy: 10:07am On Feb 18, 2010
Tpia,

Thanks so much for the link, that was true enlightenment. While there was a lot of influence from the Islamic world on timbuktu as highlighted below in the excerpt below:

'In the eleventh century merchants from Djenne set up the various markets and built permanent dwellings in the town, establishing the site as a meeting place for people traveling by camel. They also introduced the Islam and reading, through the Qur'an.' The "University of Sankore" was a madrassah, very different in organization from the universities of medieval Europe. It was composed of several entirely independent schools or colleges, each run by a single master or imam. Students associated themselves with a single teacher, and courses took place in the open courtyards of mosque complexes or private residences. The primary focus of these schools was the teaching of the Qur'an, although broader instruction in fields such as logic, astronomy, and history also took place.

But i especially treasure this:

'The most outstanding treasure at Timbuktu are the 100,000 manuscripts kept by the great families from the town.[27]. These manuscripts, some of them dated from pre-Islamic times and 12th century, have been preserved as family secrets in the town and in other villages nearby. The majority were written in Arabic or Fulani, by wise men coming from the Mali Empire. Their contents are didactic, especially in the subjects of astronomy, music, and botany. More recent manuscripts deal with law, sciences and history (with unique records such as the Tarikh al-Fetash by Mahmoud Kati from the 16th century or the Tarikh al-Sudan by Abderrahman al-Sadi on Sudanic history in the 17th century), religion, trade, etc.'


I have been a quest of finding out if subsaharan Africa had a written language/alphabet/scripts before the coming of Islamic or Christian scholars. The fact that some were written in Fulani in the pre-islamic era is worthy of note.

Please if you have some links to about Subsaharan ancient scripts, i.e aside from akum/cush/nubian scripts, i would very much be pleased.
Re: The Timbuktu Manuscripts by Nobody: 3:18pm On Feb 20, 2010
you're welcome.


there isnt much information available about subsaharan ancient scripts, if there are any. I'm still looking myself. Most subsaharan writing outside of cush/nubian/aksum doesnt seem to have been developed much. This may or may not have been intentional.

however, the clues are mainly in the symbolism which is deeply established in most of these cultures. ie the artwork, religion, etc.

(0) (Reply)

Onye Ga Edu Anyi? / Why Do Igbo Girls Use Paper? / Nigerians And Their Yellow Eyes.

(Go Up)

Sections: politics (1) business autos (1) jobs (1) career education (1) romance computers phones travel sports fashion health
religion celebs tv-movies music-radio literature webmasters programming techmarket

Links: (0) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)

Nairaland - Copyright © 2005 - 2014 Oluwaseun Osewa. All rights reserved. See Nairalist and How To Advertise. 84
Disclaimer: Every Nairaland member is solely responsible for anything that he/she posts or uploads on Nairaland.