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The Ancient Texts of Timbouktou
11:59:26 AM Wednesday Aug 8, 2007

When I was a kid, anytime we would ask my dad to take us some meaningless-waste-of-money place like Disneyland, he'd tell us no, no, he had a much better place to take us. We'd ask "Where, where??" and he'd respond with some funny names of African places like "Timbouktou" and "Ouagadougou" and sometimes even "Burkina Faso" :) Timbouktou was his favorite. As a kid, just the sound of that word sounded funny to me.

Then we learned in school that Timbouktou was actually a great city and a center of knowledge and scholarship, home to vast libraries, thinkers, and writers. Seekers of wisdom and fortune would come from all over Africa to Timbouktou to tap into the fountain of wealth, both intellectual and economical, for Timbouktou was also a strategic trading center. Its geographic location made it a great outpost and meeting place for travelers, traders, spiritual students and scholars from all over the Maghreb and Sahelian Africa.

So it quite tickled my fancy recently to see a little flurry of interest in the media about reviving the literary and scholarly significance of Timbouktou.. And this morning I saw this video in the NYTimes:
NYTimes feature on Timbouktou revival of historical book preservation

I fell in love with the images of these old historic texts, bound in ancient crumbling leather.. the notes written by families in the margins of their books telling the stories of their lives.. births, deaths, important moments in their family... the beautiful curvy handwriting styles, the gorgeous organic architecture of the libraries, homes and mosques..

Take me to Timbouktou!! =)

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6:35 pm    September 5, 2007

Salem message
Salut Hafid.

12:53 pm    September 2, 2007
slt tous le moned

8:31 pm    August 11, 2007
One last shot, Walata is nowdays one of 4 major anciant cities of Mauritania!. It role it played in the history of the region is not known enough.

7:49 pm    August 11, 2007
Great. It's a beautiful song. Sounds familiar to me. It deosn't surprise me though. I feel the beat in my blood. I didn't know that Kateb Yacine breeded a so talented artist. The band Gnawa Diffusion is amazing. I'm gonna get to know them more, in the net.

Thanks Hod ! Expecting the Gnawa piece. Give it a good start!


6:26 pm    August 11, 2007

hudhud message
gnawa piece coming soon :)

and is it just me or is amazigh kateb the hottest thing after sliced bread??! =D



6:24 pm    August 11, 2007

hudhud message
yes gnawa definitely is alive and well in algeria too, both in traditional forms, and in more contemporary forms..
one of my fav groups is gnawa diffusion. the lead singer is Amazigh Kateb, son of the famous algerian author/poet Kateb Yacine.

say salamalikoum to Baba Salem men Timbouktou :)

gnawa diffusion baba salem


4:54 pm    August 11, 2007
"Thanks to its privileged geographical situation, Walata became a crossroads of civilisations within Mauritania, the land of nomads. Traditionally it formed part of the trade route crossing the Sahara towards North Africa and was crossed by Arabs, Berbers and members of black cultures, all of whom left their cultural imprint. The city became an intellectual focus for Islam during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when it was even a refuge for Muslim sages. At that time the city had six Koranic schools and the leading doctors of Islamic law gave their classes there. Each of the narrow streets and the buildings we come across on our visit to Walata are today a living example of the cultural heirloom of past centuries."


4:41 pm    August 11, 2007
"The Empire of Ghana is the earliest political organisation known to us south of the Sahara. Its origins in the eighth century are attributed to a Soninke tribe that emerged from Walata at the beginning of our era. The empire covered what is now south-east Mauritania, south-west Mali and northern Senegal, prospering with the trade in gold and salt until it was invaded by the Muslim Almoravid Berbers in 1078. There is a route along which we can get to discover interesting footprints left by this ancient civilisation in and around Walata".

3:50 am    August 11, 2007
"The first constructions in Timbuktu were designed by African architects from Djenne and later on by Muslim architects from North Africa. Trade and knowledge were at their height. It was at this time that the King of Sosso invaded the empire of Ghana, thus causing the exodus of the scholars of Walata to Timbuktu."

Could that be a link between Ghana and Morocco where Gnawa Music is still a major component of Moroccan Music. A previous comment had stated that Timbuktu was a Gnawa capital.

I Know Gnaw music exist also in Algeria but I have no idea about its relative position over there.


5:47 pm    August 10, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Interesting indeed. Not sure why the books would get lost, but I know that armies aren't exactly known for preserving things.

5:05 pm    August 10, 2007

abdelilah message
The Moroccan rulers pillaged Timbuktu and many books got lost. Many scholars had to flee. An interesting chapter of our history.

1:26 am    August 10, 2007
I woke up this morning thinking : SUVs maybe the right vehicules... and a lot of other thinks...

6:30 pm    August 9, 2007
Sure. We are at the stage of brainstorming. So... nobody's guilty for wrongsaying.

4:37 pm    August 9, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I have a feeling you'll need more than the love autobus to travel through Africa.

3:09 pm    August 9, 2007
What a beautiful dream!!! : Africa tour. I\'m already doing it somehow. It\'s one of my happiest experiences ever. Every year I visit a different african country (business trips). So far I visited, Algeria, Tunisia, libya, Egypt, Sudan, Madagascar, South Africa, Senegal and Mali. I didn\'t see much of Mauritania as I spent only one night in the Nouakshot airport where I could see the airport staff and infrastructure. I also could see the dark, the light and part of the landscape (desert), breathe the air and wished I could see more. Next year the target is Tanzania, I will have the opportunity to see the Kilimanjaro mountain. I have no idea about how and when this experience will end. Burkina Faso may be the 2009 step... I\'m so lucky, thanks God.

This was in a specific context. The one growing in your mind, a Raioo expedition, would be something differently marvellous. Nothing is impossible. If Raioo sets it as a sound project, It could be conceived, planned, financed, implemented and achieved with at least one of the Folks Wagons (woldswagen) recommended by Hudhud. Wow... I find myself smiling while dreaming...

Gnawi, I have not been listening to the news today. Please follow the meteorolical news and hope that the heavy clouds said to be coming from south, end up west in the ocean. Allah ye7san 3wan Lba77ara!

And Gnawi, if you go further west, while passing through Rabat we can go for a café. If you find the idea attractive, just drop a message in my mailbox :, I will then send you my mobile phone number and hopefully meet. If hudhud is far away, we will make sure that her chair be at our table (am I right saying \"her\" ?).


11:02 am    August 9, 2007

hudhud message
yes it's me - the one and only cheerio :) I somehow managed (twice in a row) to lock myself out of my old hudhud account :o) I'll fix it soon inshallah.

I've heard about those little water cyclones, they can be so dangerous.. allah yehfad.. we have flash floods in southern california every year, our region is semi-arid and lots of desert habitat - with that come vulnerable soils and the minute those hard rains come falling within a very short time span the flash floods are in full swing especially in hilly coastal, and desert areas. we learned to live with it. the trouble is for those in rural areas with weaker infrastructure and less resources to aid in times of need - and nowhere to go if their homes are damaged.

i'm game for the road trip dude. we can write our adventures a book to donate to Timbuktu's children's library =) "Rahalate Abnaa Raioo: Men Timbuktu ila Ouagadougou ila Kilimanjaro ila Tassili". I'll take the pictures!! one of us needs to draw the map. someone else has to be the designated trip shopper - one woven African product or hat or bead necklace from each region. and if anyone gives us a visa complication - we'll just pass them the peace pipe... =)

the only real trouble is - where do we get one of these for transport..


1:28 am    August 9, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Storms in Morocco? where. I am driving west to Fes this morning and would really not want to have to deal with rains on the way; it's such a fragile little road as it is. A few people passed away here too at Saidia beach a few days ago. Apparently one of those water cyclones appeared near the beach and sucked three people in. They re-emerged a few minutes later, all dead.

Hudhud.. I guess I meant capital in the sense that it is refered to a lot in Gnawi music. As far as I know, Gnawi music did come to Morocco from that area (Mali.) Where it came to Mali from, I don't know. They have this wild ritual, Derdba, that I think they claim is a soul purification event. Witnessed it once in Meknes with 3issawa and once near Marrakesh. Pretty scary sh&t. Maybe the origins of that come from sub-saharan Africa.

Maybe we should get a group together and travel to Timbuktu, then drive south from there all the way to South Africa. Then drive up again to Ethiopia, sudan egypt, and come back to Morocco. It would be a little Raioo Expedition. Only trouble is, if we hold some African poassports, we might need to deal with visa complications.


7:44 pm    August 8, 2007
Do you know that Gnawi = Ganawi which simply means Ganean (from Gana). Tombuktu was an intermediate station for them coming up north. Now the Gnawa music is a major dimension of Moroccan music. Maybe your next note will be on Gnawa Hudhud!

Noticed a different spelling of Hudhud with a different "photo/image"! Is it the hudhud we know or a different one? When I read the comment # 1, I could see no difference of style, same spirit!!! Maybe it's the same Hudhud : Hodhud....

Sorry. It's too hot hear. I may be experiencing kind of hallucinations... and I'm scared because the meteo announced forthcoming stormes in the next two days over Morocco, a forcast of redoubtable water overfow, too much rain in a short time, floods... The tone wase given today in Mauritania where lost of lives occured and lots of domage done to the infrastructure. Thousands of people left homeless, without food and and medication... God save our vulnerable regions.

And you know what? I've heard about a MicroTsunami in Algeria. A huge wave killed 12 sweemers at Mosghanem Beach. Allah ye7fad! Is it the global climate change or what ?


5:57 pm    August 8, 2007

hudhud message
aha.. perhaps that was his ulterior reason for being so in love with timbouktou.. ;o)
know any bands or good groups from there?

4:33 pm    August 8, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Timbouktou: major gnawa capital :)

12:27 pm    August 8, 2007

hudhud message
Rock salt is still a powerful trading commodity and still brought by caravan to Timbouktou from Taoudenni via a caravan route called Azalai - a route which once extended to the now-extinct Taghaza, once another powerful rock-salt mining town under Berber leadership that was destroyed by Judar Pasha who was the military leader of the Moroccan Saadi Dynasty that wiped out the Songhai Empire at the battle of Tondibi.... the river trading post and city of learning Gao was then the capital of the Songhai kingdom.. it was sacked first, then Djenné followed by Timbuktu... apparently gun powder from Judar's smaller forces left Askia Ishaq II's forty-thousand strong army shredded to bits and pieces...........

a bit of african history for the day..


hudhud's notes (47)
A Year for Tlemcen..
generation news ..
where did the spaniard go?..
why khaled will always remain king..
from business English to business French....
Chicken Bastilla Alger Style..
el mektoub, el mektoub..
3D views of famous mosques and palaces..
Rest in Peace Miriam Makeba..
Walking to Guantanamo - book & photos by Richard Fleming..
From a Tourist's Eyes..
Waiting for Pasolini || En Attendant Pasolini..
La Maison Jaune || The Yellow House film by Amor Hakkar..
on the politics of blaming history.....
Samira's Garden directed by Latif Lahlou..
Dayton, Ohio mosque targeted in 'gas incident'..
eidkoum mebrouk..
Obsession with Hate..
"home is where the heart is.."..
Coming to a Sky Near You: Total Lunar Eclipse..
Reading the Koran - an Essay by Tariq Ramadan..
Amina Alaoui Lyrics..
Amina Alaoui..
Hrira Tastes Better with.....
The Ancient Texts of Timbouktou..
the Wonderful World of Weaving..
Take me to La Casbah....
Morocco In Between..
Name that Poet..
Cheikha Rimitti: 83 Years of Life.....
The Prayer of Taif..
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam..
Hotel Figueroa - Mexican Morrocana..
Roman Ruins in North Africa..
Great Mosques..
Recipe: Quince Preserves..
Andalusi terminology..
Receipe: Almond Crescents..
Al-Andalus: Words Worth Gold..
Vintage travel posters..
Khoubz eddar..

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