Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Intellectual vibrancy in Timbuktu

European historians and philosophers had contended that black Africans were illiterates with no history, but Timbuktu's manuscripts proved the opposite—that a sophisticated, freethinking society had thrived south of the Sahara at a time when much of Europe was still mired in the Middle Ages. That culture had been driven underground during the Moroccan conquest of Timbuktu in 1591, then had flourished in the eighteenth century, only to vanish again during seventy years of French colonization.
Joshua Hammer, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016), ch. 1.

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