The Meanings of Timbuktu
In a joint project between South Africa and Mali, a library to preserve more than 200 000 Arabic and African documents dating from the 13th century ... Show synopsis In a joint project between South Africa and Mali, a library to preserve more than 200 000 Arabic and African documents dating from the 13th century is currently under construction. It is the first official cultural project of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the socio-economic development plan of the African Union and when the library is built, the cultural role of Timbuktu will be revived, as it becomes the safehaven for the treasured manuscripts currently housed in 24 private libraries.The manuscripts point to the fact that Africa has a rich legacy of written history, contrary to popular opinion that oral tradition alone preserved its heritage. The articles collected in this volume, authored by a number of leading international scholars in the field from Europe, the USA and several African countries, cover a wide range of areas in the study of Timbuktu.Divided into four sections, the volume focuses on issues such as archaeology and the history of paper, the notion of Arabic literature in its different forms as a source of African history, intellectual life of Timbuktu, libraries and private collections of manuscripts of Timbuktu and also looks at the written legacy of the eastern half of Africa. The volume concludes by sketching the "meaning" of Timbuktu within the context of the intellectual history of West Africa in particular and the whole African continent in general.This is a must read for those who wish to gain an understanding of the aura of mystique and legend that still surrounds Timbuktu today."The Meanings of Timbuktu" strives to contextualize and clarify the importance of this project for Mali, for Africa and for the intellectual world.