When I first heard about Timbuktu, I was a sixteen-year-old O-Level student at Gayaza High School. I doubt very much, that my bored history teacher could have passed on information about that city that would have interested me. She always sat in her chair and read her old notes to us that we had to copy. We copied notes about the rise and fall of the city, but did not ever have a good sense of what the city was like.
About three years ago, I came across the documentary series by Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Wonders of Africa, and it changed the perception I had of history and the way it is told. Even growing up on the continent itself, there was a very real suggestion in the subtext of everything we learned, that we were an inferior race, who did not have much by way of culture, education, writing, history. To find out that there were UNIVERSITIES in Timbuktu that people traveled long distances to study medicine, theology, philosophy, was quite startling! So I began a search, looking for any and all information that I could lay my hands on and I found a few good things. I found friends who influenced my thinking and research that hinted at the fullness of the people of Africa. I’m always thirsty for more.
If you are interested in more, please check out, The Lost Kingdoms of Africa with Dr. Gus Casely-Heyford.
Finding these videos on youtube, is quite exciting and I will share them with you. Follow Aminatta Forna as she looks into a past most of us know nothing about.