AN audacious rescue of hundreds of thousands of ancient handwritten books and manuscripts from Islamist rebels in Mali was made possible by secret help from German diplomats, it emerged yesterday.
Abdel Kader Haidara, the Malian academic who oversaw the operation to smuggle the documents to safety before rebels torched Timbuktu’s libraries, relied on the Germans for expert help and funding. Embassy staff paid for numerous private car trips to ferry the 4000 most important manuscripts dating back to the 9th Century to safety in Bamako, the capital, concealed under cargos of lettuce and fruit.
While the French sent troops, the Germans sent cultural attaches armed with secure storage boxes to preserve the delicate papers that are the only record of centuries-old writings on astronomy, religion and philosophy from the region. Read more.