Monday, July 15, 2013
'Go to Timbuktu' or 'We send you to Timbuktu' inferring that it is a godforsaken place that no one would want to go, where jin bertendang. The fact isTimbuktu had a rich historical past.
Timbuktu used to be a desert nexus founded by Tuareg herders along the route of caravanserai for West Africa. It grew into a rich trading centre by the 15th century which was about the same period as the Melaka sultanate.
It was the seat of the Mali Empire that reached its expansive heights around 1350. Musa was the most famous and richest king. Gold and salt mines were the main resources. On its decline it was taken over by the Songhai Empire which reached its zenith circa 1520.
Circa 1828, French explorer found Timbuktu in a dilapidated conditions and hence the situation thus ripe to annex Mali later in 1894. In 1960 Mali gained independence from France. The French are back to neo-recolonise Mali under the pretext to put down Tuareg rebels.
600 - desert caravans link Mediterranean with African interior
800 - Arab merchants bring Islam to North Africa
1100 - Timbuktu founded by Tuareg herders
1324 - Emperor Musa travels to Mekah
1500 - Scholarship and trade flourish under Songhai Empire
1591- Moroccans invade and deport scholars
1612 - series of local rulers until French arrive 1894
1960 - Mali gains independence from France
Above - a rare 17th-century Tuareg manuscript contains an illustration of the Prophet's sandals. Over the years many antiquities have been sold in the black market and in and out of Mali.
View of dwellings and village life around Timbuktu (above).
Above - With quills cut from desert shrubs, a Tuareg (in white robe) teaches calligraphy on the roof of his studio. The city once supported a flourishing industry of scribes who copied texts brought by traders and soldiers.
Below - a Tuareg boy learning the Quran scribed on a wooden palette.
By the will of Allah, may the Tuaregs will drive out the crusading infidels for good.