Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts
October 6, 2014 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Abdel Kader Haidara awarded Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts. Under his direction centuries' worth of texts were smuggled out when the city was taken by book-burning religious conservatives in 2012. The collection is currently in Mali's capital Bamako where it is being preserved and digitized. More text, slideshow, video, previously previously previously

Recent thread on life in Timbuktu. Google translations of the German Wikipedia entry on the Deutscher Afrika-Preis and the award organization's 2014 page.
posted by XMLicious (18 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
A very good choice.
posted by tavella at 3:57 PM on October 6, 2014


Fantastic news!
posted by ikahime at 4:59 PM on October 6, 2014


Oh cool. Thanks for posting this, XMLicious.
posted by homunculus at 5:00 PM on October 6, 2014


Cool reason to win a Peace Prize and an excellent example of what "peace" can mean.
posted by cell divide at 5:03 PM on October 6, 2014


I think the description of the group that was trying to burn the books as "religious conservatives" is really a stretch. Neither the original article or wikipedia page contain the words "religious" or "conservative". The OP is trying to conflate the actions of this silly group with a large number of people with conservative religious beliefs and practices as a smear tactic.
posted by fraxil at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2014


If you'd like to help out, Timbuktu Libraries in Exile (T160K) is a great organization.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:57 PM on October 6, 2014


They're an al-qaeda offshoot.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:57 PM on October 6, 2014


(Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa is, I mean. Not Timbuktu Libraries in Exile.)
posted by Navelgazer at 6:07 PM on October 6, 2014


The usage of religious conservatives is appropriate in context, assuming you don't want to add in many paragraphs explaining this particular movement. I don't think usage of this term at all implies that all religious conservatives are sympathetic with this movement, any more than usage of "conservative" to describe die-hard old-guard communists in 1980s Moscow had anything to do with the philosophy of conservatism as practiced in the West. It just means resistant to change.

Of course, the alternative is to use the go-to Western journalism term, prior to 9/11 anyway, of "Islamic radicals" which has its own problematic associations and implications. At some point we need to use words, or we're in the "Darmok" episode of TNG.
posted by dhartung at 6:28 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Shaka, when the books burned.
posted by ikahime at 6:34 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Isn't it disgusting that the "West" feels it is entitled to denounce book burning in developing nations, while conveniently ignoring it own history of book burning - which was such an integral part of its own path to modern dominance?

From the Library of Alexandria to Nazi Germany to the Harry Potter witchcraft trials, hasn't Western society reaped vast benefits of book-burning - benefits which we now seek to deny to the Global "South" - ?

And isn't the West's hypocrisy on this point merely another example of the dangerous cult of the book, which seeks to flatten every human being between its acid-free pages of tyranny, in an endless war against the movie version of the dangerous cult of the book (which was actually much better)?

The answer to all these questions is "no", and I think we can all agree that the author of this comment should now be burned for his tedious stupidity. Thank you for this opportunity to say these last words before you set me on fire.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:54 PM on October 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Are there a lot of secular book-burners out there?
posted by maxwelton at 7:07 PM on October 6, 2014


I'm very excited about the Timbuktu manuscripts. There might be literally anything in there: Timbuktu was a huge trading center, and the collections are reportedly quite eclectic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:34 PM on October 6, 2014


Are there a lot of secular book-burners out there?

Nah. When libraries toss out thousands of books to make room for a cafe, they just douse them with detergent and throw them in locked dumpsters.
posted by Angleton at 8:40 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


So btw I did intentionally specify book-burning religious conservatives. I know lots of perfectly nice religious conservatives who do not burn books, particularly not the works of their own coreligionists in their common liturgical language; but if anyone knows some noble upstanding religious conservatives of the book-burning variety whose good name is besmirched by my phrasing, by all means I apologize in that regard.
posted by XMLicious at 12:26 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I understand but you might just as easily have said book-burning Africans, and then see if anyone gets offended. I know a lot of perfectly nice Africans who don't burn books. How does that sound?
posted by fraxil at 4:15 AM on October 7, 2014


I think the description of the group that was trying to burn the books as "religious conservatives" is really a stretch.

Religious fundamentalists would be more correct. Contrary to what they themselves would tell you, fundamentalists are radicals not conservatives.
posted by atrazine at 5:20 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Great post, thanks.

> I understand but you might just as easily have said book-burning Africans, and then see if anyone gets offended. I know a lot of perfectly nice Africans who don't burn books. How does that sound?

Jesus Christ, let it go. You made a point barely worth making and now in upping the ante you're just shitting in the thread.
posted by languagehat at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


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