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Environmental Recording 2:22 - 6:26 Play 2:22 - More
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City ambi  







Sound Effects 16:22 - 23:00 Play 16:22 - More
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Muslim call to prayer  






Takbir, Allha Akbar  

Interview 28:11 - 1:30:32 Play 28:11 - More
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Issa Mohammed, Wade Davis  






Bul' Araf manuscript library; ancient Timbuktu  

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Takbir, Allha Akbar  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
11 Jan 2003

  • Mali
  • Timbuktu; Sankore Mosque
  • 16.7758333   -3.0055556
    Recording TimeCode
  • 6:37 - 25:05
  • Mali
  • Timbuktu; Ahmad Baba Center; Bul' Araf manuscript library
  • 16.7758333   -3.0094444
    Recording TimeCode
  • 26:15 - 1:30:33
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 50
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS Stereo

Show: Mali
Log of DAT #:2A
Engineer: Leo
Date: January 11, 2003

IM = Issa Mohammed
WD = Wade Davis
AC = Alex Chadwick
Leo = Leo del Aguila

Leo tests mics, speakers, and recorder, MS Stereo ¿ MKH 50 & MKH 30 into Sonosax preamp into Sony D8 recorder.

Ambi. Just outside hotel in Timbuktu, engine going.

Ambi. Clank sound and people talking.

FX. Clank sounds much more frequent, louder.

Ambi. African people talking.

FX. Truck going by.

Ambi. Low car sound.

African man asks if a certain instrument is a television in French.

5:42 AC

African man, ¿Radio?¿

5:44 AC

African man, ¿Swiss?¿

5:47 AC
No, America.
African: ¿America?¿

5:51 AC
Um-hm, Thank you.

African: ¿Your welcome. Quite (abnormal?)for the visit.

5:57 AC
Um-hm. You are. Quite nice, thank you.

African. I have nice jewelry for you. A souvenir for you.

6:01 AC
No, no

FX. Loud banging.

This is silver, it¿s good.

FX. Horn honk

African. A look, same.

6:16 AC
Yeah, thank you, no. Um-hm.

Ambi. Sounds of merchants, people, cars going by.

6:40 Leo

Okay. I¿m outside one of the mosques here.

Ambi. People talking.

6:44 Leo
And the sound of prayer is gonna come around pretty soon, I think. So let¿s see. Is a, the mosque Sankore (spells it out). I think there¿s a little chanting already.

Ambi. People talking, faint sound of chanting.

FX. Sound of car engine

Ambi. People talking, chanting, kids playing.

Ambi. Sound of walking and car revving. People talking.

FX. Youth responds to kid in other language.

Ambi. kids shouting, people talking, sounds of walking. Conversations.

FX. Engine rev and kid talking loudly.

Ambi. People talking.

FX. Kids having loud conversation.

FX. Motor revs.

Ambi. Kids talking, laughing, coughing.

Motor revs

Ambi. Kids talking, chanting at the mosque

FX motor revs

Ambi. Kids playing. Chanting.

FX. Motor revs

Ambi. Kids having conversation. Motor in background.

Someone asks a question

15:04 AC
Shoes here.

Ambi. Shuffle sounds, kids talking.

15:12 African man
Look at these shoes.

Ambi. People discussing something. Kids playing. Shuffle sounds.

¿Call to prayer begins (continues till 22:59)
28:11 Issa Mohammed [IM]
We are here at the Bul' Araf family¿s private library. And presently, this gentleman here is the one who is in charge of the family private library. And this library has been the oldest library in Timbuktu. And therefore it is called the mother library of Timbuktu. And most of the manuscripts that are today in the modern libraries came from, 80 percent of them, came from this library. So he¿s presently the gentleman who¿s responsible for the family, and also responsible for the manuscripts. And as you can see here, he¿s having, uh, challenges in terms of preserving this family¿s legacy. And also he¿s actually one of the scholar of Muhamen Hamu, who is the leader of the , uh, inner circle of knowledge. He¿s also going to join us, you know, inside this library. So we are very fortunate to be here today.

29:19 Alex Chadwick [AC]
Can you just tell me, uh, this gentleman¿s name? And is this library know by a name?

29:25 IM
Uh-hum, Uh Quelle est le nom de biblioteque? Est presente vous, si vous plait.

29:29 Tiu Bul' araf (?)
Bon! Je suis tiu Bul' araf (?) Le patifice ariche de le biblioteque Hamed Bul' Araf.

29:43 IM
So his name is Tiu Bul-Arif and he is also a professor of the school and presently the library has been left in his charge by his, uh, great-grandfather, who originally came from Morocco.

30:14 IM
So this, uh, great ancestor, his name is Ahmed Bul-Arif and he is a great scholar and a great, uh, intellectual.

30:25 Wade Davis [WD]
From what age was it? How old are the manuscripts here?

30:42 IM
Yeah, he¿s very passionate in terms of preserving culture.

30:56 IM
So he was born in 1864 in Guilami, Southern part of Morocco, and he left Morocco in 1900 because of the instability.

31:20 IM
So he actually has preserved the library. So at that time Southern Morocco was on the appropriate place to shelter this legacy.

31:42 IM
So therefore he has heard about the famous city of Timbuktu as being a city of knowledge and therefore he decided to come and settle in the city, make the city his home, and also protect his library, and expose his library and share his collection with the other scholars in the area.

32:23 IM
So he¿s coming practically from a again, a Southern Morocco. And what he did on his way is gather any kind of manuscript he can put his hands on.

32:59 IM
So in his crossing of the Sahara he ended up in Mauritania. And at that time also Mauritania was a very active intellectual and spiritual center. So he settled in Mauritania for three years, still collecting manuscript. And he ended up in Timbuktu in 1904.

So he ended up here with 2030 manuscripts that he collected so far. So therefore he started putting in place the library and so forth. But by 1907 he was able to establish his library as a powerful and competent library in the city.

And his real mission is to save the culture in sub-Saharan Africa.

And when he came here also he really had financial means to do that.

So therefore one of the first thing he started doing is he hired people to start copying the manuscript for him. And also he had the group that will go out into the Sahara that will search for these rare and sacred manuscripts.

And during that time the manuscripts were so valuable that people would dig holes to put them there just to protect them or put them on top of trees.

So therefore, as we said, he hired some people to do some copying, and then also some collating, so particularly putting a book industry together.

He said he can show you that atillia, atillia is like a shop.

Yeah so he had his own manuscript he collected along the way and then he had some people copying them. Any kind of manuscript that he could get copied.

And then he sent out some teams, research teams, to go and collect these manuscripts from the Sahara.

He said but at the time he really encountered the French opposition. They were asking ¿Why allow an Arab culture to take place?¿.

So at that time word of the Colonial administration was already in Timbuktu. So he has been called in to the office several times and he has already been questioned as to what are his intentions in collecting this manuscript.

So since the French-colonial power has took place, you know, in Timbuktu, has put in place, keeping an eye on him, he has slowed down a little on his research, but he was really determined to preserving this culture.

So he said also he has established a lot of contacts, particularly in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and also Sudan, the existing Sudan, and he has that correspondence now, and also is correspondent with the great Islamic center which is Alexander University in Cairo, which is one is like the Harvard.

So he was able to find a very intelligent way to finance the presentation of the manuscripts by copying them and then selling them locally, on the local market. So by doing that he was able to get the funding to buying these new collections as well as preserving these old, existing ones.

So he passed away in 17th of September 1957, and he left behind 17,000 manuscripts.

And also the manuscript, uh, so his collection was really wide. He had mathematics, physics, chemistry, um, what they call holistic medicine, etc, etc.

40:05 WD
Let¿s try to put this story in a bigger perspective. We know that around, uh, Timbuktu there is something on the order of 7,000 manuscripts around the city. We know that Timbuktu was a great center of learning in the 12th century. This is an epic story of a man¿s attempt to create a wonderful collection before he passed away in the late 1950¿s. But tell us a little bit, Issa, to put this in context, as to what was going on in Katmandu. How did Katmandu become a center of such learning at a time when Europe remained in the dark ages. How did Timbuktu have a population of 100,000 at a time when London¿s population and probably Paris have a population of far less? How did Timbuktu come to have 25,000 students in a very unique kind of university, and the use of university is a kind of a misnomer because it implies our notion of what a university was whereas indeed what was going on was a very different kind of learning. So, give us a little bit of context for this whole story.

41:23 IM
Well, to answer you I can refer to the project that I am working on. That is the Timbuktu Heritage Institute. So the project has been put together to conserve these manuscript that we can see here, they¿re almost rotten. And not only to conserve the manuscript of Timbuktu, but most important to share with the world the important message of peace, tolerance, cultural diversity, conflict resolutions, that is really coming out of these manuscripts, and also that has been the backbone of this heritage. Because the Timbuktu legacy is really a multi-cultural, or multi-ethnic heritage. So we can say the legacy of Timbuktu is really human cultural legacy in addition to being an academic legacy, a trade legacy, in fact. And salt has played a very important role in the very foundation of this city because Timbuktu is the result of trade and knowledge. And now, the third component of the Timbuktu Institute is to use the culture to create an awareness world-wide that there is a beautiful culture on the edge of dying. If we human beings do not step in to help the descendant of these great scholars that contributed and really were the keys to this great legacy that everybody is proud of and that back in the nine, ten, 11, 12th century, or the attracted the interest of Europe, to the point that in the cafes of Italy or Portugal, or Spain, the explorers believe that the one who will capture Timbuktu will really put his hand on this Western African trade. And Timbuktu was really upheld, Timbuktu was a brilliant star, and Timbuktu played a very important role. And we will ask our professors who are here, who are more knowledgeable in that subject about the exact population of Timbuktu at that time. And what led exactly to a city where we have 100,000 at that time we had 25,000 students, university students, and then 180 Koranic schools, elementary schools. In fact some of the French explorers who came here were very amazed to find children, at the age of 10 in Timbuktu, playing soccer and reciting the Koran, and reciting the traditions of the prophet by heart.

44:41 WD
You know it¿s interesting, even those people in North America and perhaps in Europe as well, who think of Islam favorably, nevertheless feel that somehow Islam spread with all the rapidity that it did because it went ahead with the edge of the sword. But in fact, the spread of Islam, to my understanding, is that it is a religion of tolerance and of ethics and of values that were absorbed readily by the peoples through which it moved. And then you have Timbuktu, which is an extraordinary center of knowledge. I mean, you¿re sitting in this musty room looking at hundreds of manuscripts with brownish paper. Many of which have obviously been falling apart, brittle, fragile, dusty, in a room that has no air-conditioning, in a room that has no scientific facilities which one would expect to treat manuscripts of this age. It¿s a rather astonishing thing to experience. What is the age of these very manuscripts on the wall here?

45:46 IM
Um, again, as I said, my friends can answer these questions. But we also know the city of Timbuktu, roughly. And again I¿m quoting Western sources; I don¿t have anything against Western sources, but according to some of Colonial, French Colonial, the city of Timbuktu was founded in 1100 by a group of Nomads called the Amazir, or the Ama-a Tamashek people, or commonly called in nowaday Mali, Twaregs Ikniger, or Inhdmali. And that there was a lady by the name of Tien Buut Wuut, and Tien Buut Wuut in the Tamashek language means the lady with the um big naval. So that lady had a well. Because again we have to understand that this is the edge of the Sahara Desert. So therefore, water plays a very important role. And also the Twaregs being a nomadic people with herds and animals cannot go directly to the river banks because you would create a conflict situation with the sedentary Songai people because of their farms, you see. So therefore they dug a well here, at the camp of this lady, called Timbuktu and you became, it almost evolved as a flea market. So on certain days of the week the Songai¿s and Fulahni, and Edaminkah, coming through canoes, riverboats, or canoes from Giney, Mopti, bringing African products, mainly gold, etc, because you know, at the time gold was really popular, and coming to Timbuktu to exchange it with salt and other goods coming from Northern Africa. So as the time went by, when people asked each other where are you coming from or where are you going they say I¿m going to Timbuktu, Tien Buut Wuut, I¿m coming from Tien Buut Wuut, and with time it became Timbuktu. So this is a city that has been named after a woman.

48:11 WD
What, lets ask our friends here.

49:06 IM
Okay, yes, uh, so he said, uh, you know we can, yeah, he¿s a professor, and this is our friend, Muhamen Hamu, of this, he¿s actually the head of the Circle of Knowledge, and he¿s present with us here today. And presently he¿s the one presiding over the Institution, where some of the most burning issues in Sub-Africa are being dealt with.

50:33 IM
So he¿s going back and estimating the age of the manuscripts, and he¿s saying that some of the manuscripts are 500 years old; 200, 300 years old. Particularly the manuscript written by Ahammed Baba, at least 500 years.

51:06 IM
So really for the books in terms of the age they have almost all kinds of the, uh. Some of them are new, some of them are very old. And he mentioned about, uh, Leo V. Africanis. And he also passed in Timbuktu here. And he was very amazed to see the book industry. That was really the backbone of the economy here, in Timbuktu.

52:02 IM
Yes, uh, so he¿s saying that actually the manuscript Ahmed Bul-Arif himself, you know his great ancestor has actually written at least 17 of these manuscripts and then he, you know, collected the rest. So maybe if you want to organize an interview, question, answer, we can do that right now.

52:24 WD
I¿m really interested in the whole kind of origin, or genesis, of the whole manuscripts. I assume that it came out of the mosques that were established all throughout the Saharan region. And because Timbuktu was a center of learning they were copied, they were passed down, or was it a case simply where people would keep these manuscripts in their own homes. Where did this fountain of knowledge come from?

The Circle of Knowledge, as we said, if you, we may call it, it¿s really a group, a club, a very highly academic club of all the intellectual scholars in Timbuktu. And each one of them is very competent in his field. Again, as we said, they are all teachings in Geingariber, in sakhariber, in Koran. Now, if there is any kind of pertinent questions, the questions would be put to these scholars. And then, in turn, they would be put to their students, especially those at the graduate level. And the students would go around searching everywhere in all the libraries, and finally they call a meeting, where the professors would preside over the findings of the students. So, you see, each professor would debate and defend his finding, and finally they would come to a consistency, they would come to an agreement as to how to solve this problem, and that agreement is put on paper, and that paper is called a manuscript, and then the manuscript is distributed all, um, around the Songai Empire, the Monai Empire, each governor is, we call them Amirs, will receive a copy of that manuscript.

55:30 WD
So is a manuscript in that sense, a judgment, or an interpretation of spiritual law of the Koran?

Yes, it can be both. It¿s both a judgment. When there is no interpretation they call for a judgment. You see, in other word if the answer cannot be found in the Koran, and it cannot be found in the traditions of the prophet of Islam. Then the scholars will come to an agreement on that subject, on that question. And then it becomes law and everybody has to abide by it.

56:08 WD
So, are we looking here at a body of spiritual law? Are we looking at a body of judicial law? Or are we looking at a body of academic knowledge?

56:18 IM
Yeah, we are really looking at the three of them. Spiritual laws, judicial laws, and academic knowledge. This is really what this legacy is.

56:30 WD
So we might find in one of these manuscripts references to astronomy?

56:33 IM

56:34 WD
Or mathematics?

56:35 IM

56:36 WD
Or medicine?

56:36 IM

56:37 WD
Even as we might find in the interpretation of one of the pages of the Koran?

56:42 IM
Exactly. Exactly. And we can find that interpretation in the pages of the Koran, by several scholars. Depending on how each one of them understands it, see. And again what¿s really being debated, it¿s honesty and integrity. And the scholars say ¿this is my understand and Allah knows best¿

57:12 WD
So to put this in perspective in terms of the entire Islamic world, 700,000 manuscripts, here in the environs of Timbuktu, How does that compare with what we might find in the entire Islamic world. Is this one of the largest repositories that exists?
57:30 IM
Well it¿s really, it¿s uh, quite um, a significant volume of manuscript in Timbuktu, and one of the reason is that just by looking at the environment in Timbuktu, it¿s a very hot environment so most of the time people are really given to intellectual activities. And they are writing. Yes, the Islamic body as a whole does have a lot of manuscript. However, now, we do have professors coming from Middle East and so forth to Timbuktu, attesting that some of the traditions, for instance, that are being narrated by the prophet, are not so, are not anywhere else. So we do have information here that is not everywhere, and yet it¿s an old antique information.

58:24 WD
And is it a living collection, in other words, do scholars and religious leaders from other parts of the Islamic world come to consult the texts?

58:34 IM
Yes, they, uh, this is how we have a lot of efforts come from Egypt, coming from Tunisia, coming from Morocco, um, and even coming from Western countries. We do have professors coming here to consult these manuscripts.

58:51 WD
And what about our two friends here, do they actively consult? Why don¿t we ask them these questions directly? I will ask them. Do you find yourselves actively consulting these manuscripts for either academic knowledge or spiritual understanding or interpretation of situations?

59:38 IM
(After interpretation)Yes, so the manuscripts are sources that one cannot circumvent. You cannot go around them. You have to go there.

59:57 IM
(interpretation) And also one thing that we really need to keep in mind, again, this is the mother library of all the libraries in Timbuktu. This is the library that provided most of the libraries with their volumes, some of their most important volumes.

1:00:26 IM
So he¿s saying that in 1970, when the Malian government decided to step in and protect the manuscript by providing a center. And the center is called Akhmed Baba Center. The government came and to kindly and humbly request from their family to provide the manuscript. So they provided 80 percent of the manuscripts at the Akhmen Baba Center, which we will see sometimes maybe tonight or tomorrow, that came from their family.

1:01:26 IM
He said the manuscript at the Akhmed Baba Centerare loaned to the center. And then there is also a center in Niger.

1:01:50 IM
The library in Niger, Buba Hama Library, has also loaned some books from this library the Buba Arif Library. So they do have some books in Niger and also at the Akhmed Baba Center.

1:03:10 IM
So he said we are also receiving professors and Western professors and scientist who are coming here to document their doctorate or thesis with these libraries.

1:03:26 WD
Just kind of interesting, the president¿s looking at a particular manuscript over here. I¿m just curious what he¿s found.

1:03:49 IM
So this is a juriprudence topic. And this is a law.

1:04:01 WD
What age would these be, how old would these be?

1:04:10 IM
Sixteenth century.

1:04:11 WD
16TH century?

1:04:15 IM
Yeah, this is 16th century over here, and this is (too many voices talk at once) 1900.

1:04:41 WD
Is that an original manuscript from the..?

1:04:43 IM
Um-hm, yeah, this one here is an original manuscript, you know from the 16th century, and this is a manuscript that has been copied. (to many voices talk at once).

1:04:58 IM
(says over French guy) So this is the son of Ahamed Bul-Arif. This is his own handwriting, who is the son of Ahmed Bul-Arif, trying to save the manuscripts. So they copied a very old decaying one. So he¿s saying the son of Ahmed Bul-Arif, at the time was the best in terms of grammer. Ahamed Abdul-Arif was really the specialist and expert in grammer.

1:05:49 WD
And what is this, what specifically is that document talking about?

1:06:03 IM
So here, these are you know, questions, okay maybe there is a question on litigation.

1:06:11 WD
Could he read a little bit of that for us?

1:06:26 IM
Okay so this is about a man who got married to a woman without fulfilling all the conditions of the marriage. (speaking French, then interprets) And what will be the case of the dowry in case of the litigation. (French, then interprets) So in this particular chapter here is dealing with marital law. (interprets) So he¿s saying that sometimes the manuscripts have been so much mixed up you don¿t get the front pages or the end pages, you just end up with the middle of the stack.

1:07:20 IM
So he¿s saying now, just by reading through it, you find the name of the author and then you know automatically which book, and there is already a copy somewhere. So you can get that copy and put your manuscript back together.

1:07:35 WD
How would that, how would that manuscript, do you know, or would this gentleman know how this particular manuscript came to be in this library, when was it acquired and was it acquired by his great-grandfather while crossing the desert?

1:08:50 IM
(interprets) So he¿s saying that his son, who copied this, and who is the expert in grammar that in 1993. So this is recently. Yeah, so to, he¿s trying to answer the question, he¿s saying as we have shared with you from the beginning my ancestor was very much interested in preserving these manuscripts. He has written several of them and bought and collected many of them, and then had people copy some of the old and decaying ones to preserve them. And most of work was done by his son who was also an expert in grammar.

1:09:35 WD
But the original manuscript, the old, old manuscript, do you know where the particular manuscripts come from where his great-great-grandfather would have bought that manuscript. Did he buy it in Morocco, or in Tanzania, or would it have come from Timbuktu?

1:11:00 IM
So, for instance he¿s explaining that in this case for instance, uh referring to these questions, the, um, Akhmed Bul-Arif, he¿s actually taking every question, you can see every question 91, 92, you know from this text there almost like a reading a table of contents. This is¿

1:11:24 WD

1:11:25 IM
Index. Index for this manuscript. So he will keep doing that until perhaps he will find the name of the original. And if not, he will say okay this is a summary on this manuscript, and this is a content of this manuscript and I bought this manuscript in the Sahara, or in Morocco, or somewhere, but he will give. So that anyone who is interested in doing further research they have something to start with.

1:11:58 WD
But this is from the 19th Century, is anyone today working with these manuscripts with the same intensity?

1:12:35 IM
Yeah so he¿s saying that actually the reason why we contacted the Timbuktu Heritage Institute is because we are at the point right now because of the deterioration of the ecosystem, the deterioration of the economy, we lost a lot of the things. Right now we are in a survival mode. So that really has put an impediment on continuing the work. So that is why we are addressing our needs to organizing toward Timbuktu Heritage Institute to find people who can sponsor and fund you know the conservation of this unique legacy.

11:13:43 IM
(Interprets) Yeah, he said himself Tiub Arif, he is a professor, but he is retired, so therefore he doesn¿t have the same level of income he used to earn before. And whatever he¿s earning right now is going to feed the family. You see, so if they can get the funding they need the do have the expertise to go on and preserve the manuscript and protect them.

1:14:15 WD
Is anyone working right now to preserve these manuscripts? I know you have aspirations with your organization. But my question is here we have this huge repository, it¿s like walking into a room in London, of original manuscripts of Chaucer, in his own hand, and it¿s extraordinary to be in the presences of this kind of history. Is anyone actively working today conserving this legacy?

1:15:24 IM
(two different voices talking over one another, then interpretation) He¿s saying, you know, that he¿s doing some work, this is the proof right here, where he¿s trying to first of all identify the different manuscripts, catalog them, create an index, and also implicate where this manuscript may be found at this moment. (speaking French, interpretation again) He said the Arif has some notes not in this library but was able to find them somewhere and therefore identify them. (French again) Exactly. So he¿s saying that presently this is what he¿s doing, just like this manuscript where they are asking some questions of jurisprudence. So he¿s identifying these different manuscripts and then creating an index and almost like a catalog and go find this fact in a manuscript, so so far he has 124 documents of this kind. He has identified.

1:17:27 WD
124 documents from the 16th century?

1:17:29 IM
Exactly, from 16th century, 18th century, 14th century. And not only he has identified them, but also he has indicated which family they can be found, or in which country they can be found. In Mali, or in Mauritania, in Morocco, in Niger. So he has indicated that. So if there is a student that is interested in this particular manuscript or document he has a starting point. And he¿s doing it by hand.

1:17:57 WD
How long does it take him to do that work, 124 documents?

speaking French

1:19:27 IM
So he said it has been more than three years, but before he would just read a document and then make a note and then the more he¿s reading he realizes he¿(interruption of French speaking ¿till 1:20:17). So he¿s saying that if you look at this document here, number 72, the sign of Ahmen Baraf, he¿s the one who particularly wrote this document here. And this document is not presently in this library right now, however he has identified the family that has this manuscript that he can just go and grab it. So if somebody wants to do research on it they know where to go.

1:20:49 WD
You know we are very interested in the story of the trade here. So in any of these old documents that he¿s found, are there any that refer to the salt trade, to a taxes or to trade, going back and forth?

1:21:36 IM
He said when you taken these type of documents, what they do is to go in their chapter of commerce and most of the time we find the different transactions and so forth, and they say yes there are manuscript dealing with the salt trade.

1:21:26 WD
When you start with a chapter on commerce, does every manuscript have a series of chapters that address every aspect of life?

1:22:02 IM
Yes, yes, this I know, myself. If when you open up, in fact, like you can have a volume that is a business dealings. You see, this may be the title.

1:22:14 WD
I¿m still a little confused on the nature of the content of the various documents then, because if you have the circle of elders, or the circle of scholars, they would make a judgment that was on an issue that was brought to them. But how is it that the various manuscripts end up being dedicated to a particular theme, or how are there many different themes in the manuscripts? I still can¿t quite understand the extent to which these are judicial or religious, or academic documents. I realize you said they are one and the same, but still there¿s some distinction.

1:22:53 IM
Yeah, practically the theme itself stemmed from the question. So if they look at the Koran, which is really the main source, and if you don¿t find that answer, then now you refer to the tradition of Islam. And if you cannot find that particular subject in his narrations or traditions, then this body of scholars will have to make a judgment on that subject. And now that particular question is being timatized(?) is being developed, into a theme. So you have a particular manuscript that deals with that particular theme, or couple of theme.

1:23:46 WD
Salt commerce, for example.

1:23:47 IM
Salt commerce for example, yes. So this is why when the caravan comes in for instance, everything has been cataloged. The day the caravan has arrived, what is the cargo, what are records of the cargo, who is in charge of the records, and where are the warehouses wear is going to be downloaded, etc. etc. And so with that now, there is a document, there is a record, So if we and then, instead of the records we give you a manuscript of the salt trade. Depending on the different um¿

1:24:37 WD
And the manuscript itself will it be a ruling on how that trade should be managed.

1:24:42 IM
Should be managed, exactly. And, uh, maybe if we go more to the Ahmed Baba Center, since they have more of these documents and that they have actually studied of these manuscript, it will be easy to find that.

1:25:02 WD
So these have at least some percentage of the 700,000 in their catalog?

1:25:05 IM
Yes they do. But because again of the lack of means and finances they cannot hire students, people to go through these manuscripts page by page, you see. And identify what is within these manuscripts. So it requires money, it requires funding. However Ahmed Baba Library, a library that is supported by the Malian government and other international organizations, they do have some funds to hire people to go through these manuscripts one by one, dissect them and come up with a main theme for that particular manuscript. And when you go there you see them they are shelled in cases in the glass it will say that for instance this is about medicine, this is about this, etc.

1:26:28 IM
Yeah, so he¿s saying that¿(French speaking)¿yeah, so he¿s saying that we really have the desire to preserve these, we have the knowledge to preserve these, we have the passion to preserve these and we also have the manpower, meaning you know the experts, intellectual experts, to preserve these. But the missing ingredient is the financing.

speaking French

1:27:08 IM
So, exactly, he said to me we are part of the family, we grew up in that in being programmed in preserving the cultures and so forth. So we did it at a certain point when we had our own financial means when our business is quite flourishing. But right now everything has declined, we lost our businesses, we lost our earnings, so this is why the manuscripts are sitting and nobody can work on them, because you have to pay people so they can work on the manuscript, study them, discover the different subjects and themes, and then put them and text them, and then create a catalog and then going through conservation and translation, and so forth.

French speaking

1:28:29 IM
(sounds like he¿s moved away from mic to different part of room) Yeah, so this is, uh, this is a book of grammar by Evin Marique, this is one of his copies(?). And so he¿s just making some notes, the scholar here, he¿s just making some notes (French guy speaks again). Exactly, he¿s just making some notes (more French). Um-hm, so actually he was just starting so he¿s just putting some notes on the side. But this is, uh, a manuscript on grammar.

Speaks French

1:29:11 IM
But, yeah, he said this is still a manuscript we can see. All we need is to be copied again. But again, as we said, financial means are lacking. But¿
1:29:25 WD
Are people coming from¿(fades from interruption).

1:29:36 IM
So he said he put a notation here, okay, he put a notation here, saying that in our language we call the, uh, we call this plant, uh, beans. (Then French speaking). Yeah, he said, you know, that sometimes we will make some notes for themselves in their own language. Uh, maybe Mohabique, maybe in Songhai, or in Filani, using the Arabic origin.

Librarian guy speaks some more in French, IM says ¿Yeah, so¿ then fades, more French, fades out.

Ambi. Low truck sound, some rustling.

1:30:38 WD
Here we are.

Hi guys. Oh yeah, I know. Oh, look at this. (voices converse in background, sound of car door closing). It¿s too bad we cannot find some peyote. (more conversing about the moon and motor sounds in background).

Call to prayer


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