EUROPEANS TAUGHT FOR CENTURIES that Africa had no written history, literature or philosophy (claiming Egypt was other than African). When roughly 1 MILLION manuscripts were found in Timbuktu/Mali covering , according to Reuters “all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine,” IT DID NOT MAKE MAINSTREAM NEWS as did the lies taught by Europeans concerning Africa
Someone asked me to somehow “verify” that this story is real.
Of course it’s real! The PROBLEM with the coverage regarding these manuscripts is that they’re constantly portrayed as being in “danger” because many of them are still in the possession of Malian descendants. About 700,000 have been cataloged so far, and they have had to be moved in part because apparently extremist groups have tried to firebomb them. Many others are still in the possession of the families they have been passed down in.
Some of these collected manuscripts are being housed in exile, but mold and humidity have been a constant threat. They have been raising funds to try and preserve these manuscripts-you can read more about the project to house and protect them here.
A bit of the history of these manuscripts from National Geographic:
These sacred manuscripts covered an array of subjects: astronomy, medicine, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law, government, and Islamic conflict resolution. Islamic study during this period of human history, when the intellectual evolution had stalled in the rest of Europe was growing, evolving, and breaking new ground in the fields of science, mathematics, astronomy, law, and philosophy within the Muslim world.
By the 1300s the “Ambassadors of Peace” centered around the University of Timbuktu created roving scholastic campuses and religious schools of learning that traveled between the cities of Timbuktu, Gao, and Djénné, helping to serve as a model of peaceful governance throughout an often conflict-riddled tribal region.
At its peak, over 25,000 students attended the University of Timbuktu.
By the beginning of the 1600s with the Moroccan invasions from the north, however, the scholars of Timbuktu began to slowly drift away and study elsewhere. As a result, the city’s sacred manuscripts began to fall into disrepair. While Islamic teachings there continued for another 300 years, the biggest decline in scholastic study occurred with the French colonization of present-day Mali in the late 1890s.
So yeah, basically the story of this collection’s source more or less ends with “…but unfortunately, colonialism”, as do most of the great cities of Africa, the Americas, and some parts of Asia.
Also, as an additional consideration:
With the pressures of poverty, a series of droughts, and a tribal Tureg rebellion in Mali that lasted over ten years, the manuscripts continue to disappear into the black market, where they are illegally sold to private and university collections in Europe and the United States.
Notice where the blame is placed here via language use: on the people in poverty forced to sell their treasures, as opposed to the Universities in Europe and the U.S. buying them.
It’s really just another face of Neocolonialism.
Fun fact: I only learned about that library by playing one of the Civilization games where it exists as a wonder
One of the many reasons why Medievalpoc is also about representation in all types of media.
One of the most important ways the past affects us all today is the media we create about it. History is a story, and a story bears the mark of each teller it passes through. So, each time we tell a story, we have the power to shape it as it passes through us, to others.
Whether we’re writing textbooks, fiction, or articles; sharing something on Facebook, teaching a class, playing a game, or texting our moms, we make choices in how we phrase things and frame information. When you hold things in your mind, like the Library of Timbuktu, and think about how it interacts with everything else you know, it will affect your words and behavior, which in turn affects the people around you.
As I wrote about yesterday, Colonialism in many ways involves telling lies about entire nations and peoples, and using power, ruthlessness, and brutality to make them into almost-truths. After all, if you burn the manuscripts of an entire people and then tell them they have no history; if you make teaching what remains of their history illegal, is that not violence? Is that not genocide?
I’m sure there are those who would call that an exaggeration or hyperbole, but these are often the selfsame folks who are moved to violence to defend the idea the European history is populated entirely and without exception by people we in the U.S. would consider white today. We can pretend all we like that this vision of an all-white historical Europe came from nothing, no one, and nowhere, as if it is undiluted truth that comes to us untainted by centuries of colonialism. But the facts are that you can point to specific moments, authors, and articles that show the turning points; that show these ideas being born. You can read Race Mixture in the Roman Empire by Frank Tenney (from 1916) and see how articles like these shaped American views of race in antiquity; how the racism of 1916 was imposed onto Classical Antiquity. And these are the same people who decided that an entire continent did not have books, had no written history.
Why do we know what we know? Where does it come from? And how does the media we are creating today reflect it?