The destruction of thousands of priceless manuscripts, some 300-400 years old in Maliís ancient city of Timbuktu by fleeing militants is a great loss to Africa. Timbuktu, one of the world heritage sites has been home to some 300,000 manuscripts, some dating back as far as the 12th century.
The manuscripts in Timbuktu have helped shatter negative stereotypes about Africans as a permanently crippled and historically backward people who never produced a written language, culture, religion, or anything worthwhile or at least comparable to the products of Arabs and Europeans. The manuscripts have enabled the continent to reclaim its suppressed glorious history, know its past, repossess its identity, and correct distortions put forward by afro-pessimists.
Many African countries received their independence about the same time as some Asian countries. The latter have tapped into their history and become prosperous. If Africa is to make digit strides in its socio-economic and political agenda, it must prize its history, securely guard it and use it to determine what works and what does not work. The Timbuktu destruction is a lesson that we have to develop alternative means of storing our information.
Meanwhile, the African Union ought to be lauded for being proactive and setting up the African-led Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) that has seen African countries and the international community pledge to raise $450 million to stabilize Mali. This move is a plus to the continental body.
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