Saving priceless African history

first_imgA private family library in the Tuaregvillage of Ber, 65 km east of Timbuktu.(Image: Alyssa Banta) Crumbling and fragile, the priceless Timbuktu Manuscripts are under intense scrutiny by expert teams from Mali and South Africa. (Image: Unesco)Janine ErasmusFrom August 2008 South Africans will get the chance to see a precious piece of African history, when 40 documents from the vast collection of Timbuktu Manuscripts go on exhibition around the country.South Africa and Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, are working together to preserve the priceless collection of thousands of documents once held in Timbuktu’s ancient libraries and universities. More than 100 000 manuscripts are still in existence, some dating back to the 13th century.Once the site of the world’s southernmost Islamic university, Timbuktu is the legendary Malian city that sprang up as an important commercial centre 900 years ago. The city lies on the southern edge of Africa’s vast Sahara desert, where it is subjected to the relentlessness of the climate. While its golden days as a busy caravanserai and a hub of Islamic learning are gone, it still remains in high regard because of its role as guardian of the manuscripts.The collaboration is a key element of the South Africa-Mali project, initiated personally by South African President Thabo Mbeki in 2002. It is also the flagship cultural project of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan opened the Timbuktu script and scholarship exhibition on 7 August 2008, where Mbeki delivered a keynote address.“This exhibition of a representative selection of manuscripts from the Ahmed Baba Institute is partly a consummation of the process started in 2001, when the governments of Mali and South Africa committed themselves to the preservation of the great written heritage of Timbuktu,” said the president in his address.“I consider our having this body of materials here to be a great privilege and of historic importance, and is a clear indication of our vision of consolidating historical ties with the rest of the African continent.“South Africa is also taking the lead in various aspects of the conservation and research on the manuscripts. We are, of course, also nearing completion of a new home for the manuscripts in Timbuktu, which will be a state-of-the art archive.“While we had always heard of the legendary tradition of learning of that city it was a revelation to lay eyes on such a dense and distinctive range of written materials. As the exhibition travels through major South African cities many of our people will now also be able to see the rich diversity of written materials from Timbuktu.”While Africa is known for its rich oral history, the exhibition will also help to raise awareness of the continent’s centuries-long association with the written word.“It is very important for our people to be given the opportunity to view a diversity of manuscripts from Timbuktu,” Jordan said. “Various writing materials and subjects are included, revealing a multifaceted history of reading and writing in Africa.”Examples from the collection have been seen in South Africa before – in 2005 the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg hosted an exhibition of 16 manuscripts, which included a biography of the Prophet Muhammad and treatises on music, astronomy, physics and traditional pharmacy, as part of a fundraising drive for the project.The exhibition was opened by Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure. It was the first time the documents, which are now held at the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research in Timbuktu, had ever appeared in public. The Ahmed Baba Institute is an institution of learning founded in 1974 with the help of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). Ahmed Baba was a famous 15th-century Timbuktu scholar.“We undertook the Timbuktu Project because we all agreed that the modest facilities of Ahmed Baba Institute and the limited resources available for the preservation of these manuscripts meant that over time most of them would fall into a serious state of disrepair, and many would be lost to the illegal traffic,” said Mbeki on that occasion.“Clearly, we cannot allow such a critical part of African history to die, because such a death would mean erasing an important link to our glorious past.”A centre of medieval learningTimbuktu’s renowned and ancient libraries thrived through a process of copying by hand. Learned travellers passing through the town were asked for permission to copy their books, and scholars came from all over the African and Arab worlds to study the documents, becoming known as Ambassadors of Peace throughout North Africa. During its heyday there were over 25 000 students enrolled at the University of Timbuktu.Speaking to the BBC, Ahmed Baba Centre archivist Chirfi Alpha Sane said, “In Timbuktu these scholars said that gold came from the south, salt came from the north, money came from the lands of the white men, but they believed that wisdom and the word of God were to be found only in Timbuktu.”Great care was taken in the production process, resulting in exquisite calligraphy, illuminations and leather bindings. Over the centuries, however, these beautifully-made documents have suffered much physical damage, mainly due to the climate and to insects such as termites. Paper has become brittle in the heat and dryness, while dust, grit, and human handling have also inflicted great damage.Not only did the city boast a number of well-stocked public libraries, but private libraries contained religious texts, trade contracts, legal decrees, and diplomatic notes. Today there are an estimated 60 to 80 private libraries remaining in the city. The Ahmed Baba Institute holds about 25 000 of the 100 000 surviving manuscripts, while the rest languish in Mali’s private libraries and private collections in Spain, France and Morocco.The collection has been inscribed as the first in Unesco’s Memory of the World project and Timbuktu itself was named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1998. The city and its residents, once wealthy, are today largely poverty-stricken.Working together to preserve the pastPresident Thabo Mbeki made a state visit to Mali in 2001 and was invited by that country’s president at the time, Alpha Konare, to conclude his trip with a visit to the ancient town of Timbuktu. Mbeki had no hesitation in accepting since, as he said, “as a student of African history in years gone by I had read about the significance of Timbuktu in the history of the great Malian and Songhay empires”.The manuscripts, which were used to teach mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, botany, astronomy, medicine, law, history and other disciplines, were described by Mbeki as among the most important cultural treasures in Africa as they show the advanced extent of African learning and civilisation at a time when Europe was only emerging from the Dark Ages.Moved by the efforts of Malian officials to care for the documents under the harshest and most basic of conditions, Mbeki realised that there was a need to create conditions conducive to the conservation and study of the artefacts.The South African government consequently pledged its support for the cause, which led to the signing of an agreement between the two countries, and the establishment of the South Africa-Mali project which was then declared an official South African Presidential Project.Benefactors from the public and private sectors donated money to build the new Ahmed Baba Centre near Timbuktu’s historic Sankore mosque, one of three mosques at the centre of the 12th century University of Timbuktu. The Sankore Mosque was established in 989 by the highly intellectual chief judge of Timbuktu, Al-Qadi Aqib ibn Mahmud ibn Umar, who was also the dean of Sankore University. The new facility contains an underground library for more efficient preservation of the documents.As part of the project South Africa also embarked on a training programme for the conservators of the Timbuktu Manuscripts, hosting them for two months in the year over a period of three years. With the support of the National Archives, conservators are being taught how to take care of the ancient tomes. Archivists from South Africa also travelled to Timbuktu to offer advice to families who own documents privately, while academics promoted their study.Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Ntombazana Botha said at a ceremony to mark the successful conclusion of the initial programme in 2005, “It is our responsibility to make all South Africans and the people of Africa aware of the cultural, literary, scientific and historical importance of the manuscripts.”Speaking directly to the graduates, she added, “We are confident that you will fulfil your important responsibilities back home with equal commitment and diligence. Remember that Africa has entrusted you with her greatest treasure – the Timbuktu Manuscripts. Please look after this treasure and handle it with care. You are the pioneers of a new generation of committed African Renaissance conservators and we are extremely proud of you.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Useful linksIziko Museums of Cape TownDepartment of Arts and CultureUnesco: the Timbuktu ManuscriptsUnesco: Memory of the WorldAhmed Baba CentreNew Partnership for Africa’s DevelopmentLonely Planet: MaliTimbuktu: the History ChannelTimbuktu FoundationTimbuktu CityTimbuktu digitisation projectNational Archiveslast_img read more

Barcelona near miss caught on video

first_imgHundreds of airline passengers on board an Aerolineas Argentineas Airbus A340 and a Russain Boeing 767 operated by UTair escaped near disaster at the Barcelona International Airport in Catalonia, Spain. These two large passenger planes came within meters of a catastrophic collision on the runway of this international EU airport, the second largest in Spain with the moment being caught on HD film.The footage shows a Boeing 767 from Russian airline UTair making its final approach as it prepares to land. But as the plane is about to touch down an Aerolineas Argentineas Airbus A340 taxis across its path, forcing the Russian pilot to pull off a risky, emergency maneuver and pull up.Despite the evidence caught on camera, the Spanish public body that administers most of the airports in Spain, Spanish Airports and Air Navigation (AENA), released a statement in response to the media frenzy triggered by the video.It says there was never any danger of a collision as there was sufficient space to carry out a landing between the two planes, reports Spanish publication El Mundo.last_img read more

Send gau rakshaks to fight terrorists, quips Uddhav

first_imgMumbai, Jul 12 (PTI) Taking a dig at the BJP over the terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has asked the senior ally to send gau rakshaks to fight terrorists in the Valley.Seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, were killed and 19 injured when terrorists attacked a bus in Kashmirs Anantnag district on Monday evening.While five of the deceased hailed from neighbouring Gujarat, two were from Maharashtra.”They (the BJP) used to say that do not bring sports, culture etc. in political issues. Today, religion and politics came together in the form of the terror attack. Should we understand that none of those terrorists would have been alive today if they had cow meat in their bags and not weapons?” Thackeray asked yesterday.”The issue of gau rakshaks is raging today. Why dont you send these vigilantes to fight terrorists?” he asked while addressing representatives of various Ganesh mandals for the upcoming festival here.Thackeray, whose party shares an uneasy relationship with the BJP, further said, “If the BJP government can talk to separatists in the Kashmir Valley to resolve their issues, they can certainly talk with those wishing to celebrate the Ganesh festival amidst fanfare.”He requested the Devendra Fadnavis government to bring in an ordinance against restrictions imposed by the Bombay High Court on noise level during the festivals.Earlier, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the attack on Amarnath pilgrims is an assault on the entire nation and the government, and it is high time that such dastardly incidents are given a befitting reply.advertisement”This attack was not only on pilgrims going for the Amarnath yatra but on the entire country and the government in Delhi (Centre),” he said.”Merely condemning the incident will not suffice. It is now high time that this (terrorist attack) is given a befitting reply,” he said. PTI MM NSK GVS GK DVlast_img read more

Mens Basketball Kyle Young gives Ohio State spark in return against Penn

Ohio State sophomore forward Kyle Young defends during the Buckeyes’ 74-70 win against Penn State on Thursday at the Schottenstein Center. Photo: Ethan Clewell | Senior Lantern ReporterEven when active on the roster, sophomore forward Kyle Young’s impact wasn’t obvious.Before going down with a stress fracture in his right leg against Maryland on Jan. 18, Young averaged 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, starting in 12 of the 17 games to begin the season.But in his return to the team on Thursday, Young proved his value late down the stretch.Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann didn’t even expect to play him as much as he did.“I was worried about his conditioning,” Holtmann said. “In my head, I thought 15 minutes, potentially, depending on foul trouble.”Fifteen minutes turned to 25 minutes, but again, Young’s statline didn’t stand out — six points and six rebounds, albeit while going 3-for-3 from the field.Without the exciting numbers, Young’s plays down the stretch of the game are what gave Ohio State just enough to pull out a 74-70 win against Penn State, a team it hasn’t defeated in the past three tries.Young found himself with the ball at the basket with his team down one point and just over a minute to go. Instead of rushing the shot opportunity, Young exhibited patience, waiting for junior forward Lamar Stevens to come down after the block attempt, leaving the sophomore forward an open layup, putting the Buckeyes up 71-70.“I thought his shot-fake finish was big there late, showed great poise,” Holtmann said. “[Young] rebounded it well, played with activity, you know, that’s who Kyle is, we’ve missed that.”Ohio State would not give that lead up the rest of the game, which again was assisted by Young.This time on the defensive end, it was Stevens attacking the basket with Young defending. Again, Young got the better of him, blocking Penn State’s leading scorer with 38 seconds to play.“I know he was hungry to be back, so he didn’t need too much motivation to come into the game and give his all,” freshman guard Luther Muhammad said. “We just told him to come in, continue to play his game and just play within the team and he had to do good and he did.”Young’s indent on his team can be situational. But when he has chosen to take an opportunity, he has proven to be reliable.During Big Ten play, games in which the Buckeyes are 5-6 as opposed to their 10-1 nonconference record, Young has remained a consistent presence.Ohio State is shooting 43.8 percent as a team in conference play, but Young has made 23 of his 27 attempts in seven games, good for 85.2 percent from the field, highest on the team of anyone besides redshirt junior forward Danny Hummer, who is 1-for-1.Moving forward, while the Buckeyes continue to look for answers due to a small roster, Young could be the difference maker when the time is needed.Against Penn State, he proved to be exactly that, even after a four-game absence.Junior forward Andre Wesson didn’t even think Young was ready to play yet.“When he said he was playing, I was like ‘You’re playing?,’” Wesson said. “He came in, didn’t miss a beat, he was still out there doing his job, rebounding, being another key part of our defense with blocking shots and everything, so it was good to see.“ read more

Official Thierry Henry is the new Monaco manager

first_imgThe French football legend will coach a team for the first time in his career, returning to the Ligue 1 club after almost 20 yearsAfter many rumors, putting him as manager of Aston Villa in the English Championship, for example, football legend Thierry Henry will coach AS Monaco in the French Ligue 1.The Frenchman has signed a three-year contract with the team, returning for the first time since he last played there in 1999.“His knowledge of football, his passion for the game, his high standards and his commitment to our colors make his nomination a reality,” Vadim Vasilyev, AS Monaco vice-president and chief executive officer said on the club’s official website.“Thierry is both aware of the task ahead and eager to start his new job. He can count on our trust and all our support to bring a new dynamic to the team and carry out its mission.”PSG, Neymar, Ligue 1PSG ultras sent a warning letter to Neymar Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Brazilian superstar Neymar might play today his first game of the season for Paris Saint-Germain and the team’s ultras have warned him.“First of all, I thank AS Monaco for giving me the opportunity to coach the team of this special club for me,” Thierry Henry told the official website.“I am very happy to come back to AS Monaco and extremely determined to meet the challenges ahead. I can not wait to meet the players to start working together.”#HesComingHome #ForeverMonaco pic.twitter.com/iHZEewWj13— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) October 13, 2018last_img read more

Hazard is not keen on Madrid move Thorgan

first_imgEden Hazard is not considering a move away from Chelsea despite a number of media links speculating a move to Real Madrid, according to his brother Thorgan.The Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder explained how the European champions were in ‘transition’ and his brother would only leave Stamford Bridge ‘in the correct way’.“I know him and he’s not thinking about a move right now,” Thorgan told reporters, as cited by Football Espana.“In any case Real Madrid are in transition – he will wait and give his best, then see what happens at the end of the season.WolverhamptonMatch Preview: Wolverhampton vs Chelsea Boro Tanchev – September 13, 2019 Wolverhampton will host Chelsea at the Molineux Stadium in one of the most interesting Premier League games this weekend.“He doesn’t want to clash with Chelsea. If he does go one day he’ll do it in the correct way, without problems for the club.”The Belgian skipper couldn’t help his side break down the Toffees defence in a game that ended in a barren draw.The brothers are together with Belgium ahead of the UEFA Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Switzerland.last_img read more

Quique Sanchez reveals why he joined Shanghai Shenhua

first_imgThe former Real Madrid footballer is now coaching in the Chinese Super League for the first time.Quique Sanchez Flores played for Valencia, Real Madrid, and Zaragoza from 1984 to 1997.The former Spain international became a coach in 2001, and since then he has been around.He has coached the Real Madrid youth team, Getafe, Valencia, Benfica, Espanyol, and Atletico Madrid in his native Spain.He has also managed Al-Ahli, Al-Ain, and Watford.And since the summer of 2018, he’s been in the Chinese Super League with Shanghai Shenhua.“I’m still dedicated to my profession with the same passion and with the idea, now, of broadening my horizons,” he told Marca.“My affiliation with this club, Shanghai Shenhua, had to give sooner or later since they came to find me at my home in Madrid four years ago.”“We’ve never been able to join up and now we’re here. I’m really hungry for this adventure,” he commented.“There is and there will be. But they must give projects. I only value certain leagues, not all; and I want to train certain teams, not all.”Report: Gareth Bale’s move to China blocked by Real Madrid board Manuel R. Medina – July 28, 2019 According to many media outlets, Gareth Bale’s proposed move to the Chinese Super League has been called off by his own team.“Wherever I go, I have the desire to improve myself and that the clubs enjoy being with me, with my team,” he said about the chance to coach in the Spanish La Liga once again.“Then, there is space and there will be, but right now I want to take up their opportunity in China.”“In each of the clubs I have been, they have explained the project to me,” he continued.“I dedicate a lot of time to this and the clubs have to respond. If I haven’t spent very long at a club, it’s because the club has changed the project.”“It’s not the coaches that change. We are in a moment of enormous instability in our profession,” he said.“The result is very evident. Almost nobody evaluates the job at the end of May like it should be. There is tension in clubs and this generates anxiety. Therefore, it’s not the coaches that feel the pressure but the board, who are often incapable of living with the pressure and keeping a coach.”Day 8 in Marbella pic.twitter.com/pDpRbu3g0E— Shanghai Shenhua FC (@shanghaishenhua) January 13, 2019last_img read more

Watson Lake Campground Closed Due To Fire Operations

first_imgFor Refuge recreation questions, call the Refuge Visitor Center at 907-260-2620. For Fire Updates visit our website at radiokenai.com. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Watson Lake Campground is closed to public use effective Saturday, June 22. This campground will be used as a crew camp in support of Swan Lake Fire operations, according to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. In a post from the Refuge; Using this campground for firefighters increases their efficiency as they work on the southern flank of Swan Lake Fire. Thank you for supporting their efforts by remaining clear of Watson Lake Campground and making other recreational plans for the foreseeable future.last_img

Infosys using new system iCount to assess employee performance

first_imgInfosys, India’s second largest IT firm, has rolled out a new appraisal system named iCount for its employees. The system measures their performance based on the targets given to them.The move comes months after it had abandoned the bell curve appraisal tool to assess its employees’ performance.Under the new assessment system iCount, employees will get feedback on their performance throughout the year.”Infosys has changed the way performance management is done, with higher focus on individual performance rather than relative performance. We have moved away from forced ranking curve and given our managers more flexibility and empowerment, while still retaining focus on maintaining a high performance culture,” an Infosys spokeswoman told The Economic Times.In September last year, Bengaluru-based IT major had ceased using the bell curve method. Under that system, the managers were compelled to separate the employees into three categories and “rank the performance of 70 percent as average, 20 percent as high and 10 percent as low.”Infosys’ move to discontinue the bell curve tool was one of CEO Vishal Sikka’s initiatives to reduce attrition levels and improve employee productivity. After taking charge as the chief of Infosys in August 2014, Sikka brought many changes for ‘Infoscions,’ including doing away with the formal dress code.The new system will reward the company’s employees based on their performance in short-term, taking into account annual targets set for them.”The underlying message is that every Infoscion counts and contributes…It allows for continuous feedback from peer, manager, stakeholder. This is much better than the earlier point in time feedback,” the company spokeswoman told the daily.Other IT majors such as Accenture and IBM have also made changes to their employee performance appraisal systems. Recently, IBM started using a new system called Checkpoint that helps in reviewing employee performance continuously rather than assessing once a year.last_img read more