Once again civilization survives barbarism: Timbuktu’s ancient literary treasures were not destroyed after all. In a classic example of how the uncertainty of war can make bad reporters of us all, local accounts apparently vastly exaggerated the damage done to the city’s legendary library. Not only was the place not burned to the ground—as the city’s mayor claimed—but the manuscripts themselves were removed from the library by Malians last year. The Daily Maverick reports:
Preservationists in Mali told Walt that a large-scale rescue operation was executed early last year and thousands of manuscripts were hauled out of the Ahmed Baba Institute [the name of the library that housed the manuscripts] to a safe house elsewhere. “Realising that the documents might be prime targets for pillaging or vindictive attacks from Islamic extremists, staff left behind just a small portion of them, perhaps out of haste, but also to conceal the fact that the centre had been deliberately emptied,” Walt said. . . .
People. Not the state, but people saved these priceless manuscripts.