The events that have been unfolding in Mali’s historical city of Timbuktu in the past days have been shocking and disturbing. Timbuktu a UNESCO world heritage site has witnessed the destruction of its famous buildings, rare manuscripts, ancient artifacts and art-works by a militant group called the ansar dine who have invaded the northern Mali region. Timbuktu is a 500 year ancient center of higher learning, its boast of having had the first universities in the ancient world.
The manuscripts, artifacts and artworks that are being destroyed by the ansar dine militants are priceless and irreplaceable. The wanton destruction of this heritage is indeed senseless and the only comprehendible explanation for these horrendous acts is the fact that the ansar dine wishes to rewrite history by destroying the past. The level of destruction is reminiscent to those barbaric acts committed by the warlord Genghis Khan, the same place in history that will be reserved for the ansar dine.
As human beings we are all but guardians for the future generation, we are responsible for preserving and conserving the important historical monuments, artifacts and artworks for the future generations, if we fail to preserve Timbuktu we would have failed the next generations. The ansar dine militants have no moral high ground to erase 500 years of history, the same history that belongs not only to the people of Mali , but the world at large. In essence what the ansar dine militants are doing is a form of censorship, a question I beg to ask is that after the total destruction of Timbuktu what will restrain the ansar militants from imposing censorship on modern art-forms, what will stop the ansar dine from destroying other educational institutions that they find unarguable. The world at large cannot sit and become mere spectators to such madness; swift action is needed to protect Timbuktu before one the world’s important history and heritage disappears forever.
By Michael Kanyuchi