Monday, August 27, 2012

Sometimes- rarely- something happens in the middle of a conflict which had seemed insoluble. The answer comes suddenly, and when it comes, there is no arguing- everyone bows to the solution and agrees. It is as if an Angel of peace had passed...
This happened this afternoon at the Prefecture.

Everyone was there: the Maire, the Prefects, the Village Chief, the son and brother of the Imam representing him, 9 of the 11 Djenne town councillors, the President of the Djenne High Islamic Council, the representative of the Djenne Ansar Dine (!) - in short le tout Djenne..
The speeches were lengthy and my Bamabara is fairly rudimentary but I could follow the gist of it. It seemed to me to be an arcane repetition of irrelevant legal details regarding the two Associations, and never-ending versions from various people about the circumstances of the founding of the library- in short I was in despair that we would ever get anywhere. I did not speak- this is a matter for the town of Djenne, not my project.

Then there was a palpable change- people were nodding and saying AWO, A KANJE.. (Yes, it is good).
The idea had been there all the time, but I had not seen it this morning. I believe it was the Prefect's after all, and he has risen in my estimation a hundred fold...

'Adhere to the Imam's Association!' said the Prefect. '
No No No No' said all the town councillors and everone to start with.

But then the beauty of it dawned on all those present, one by one: the Association of the Imam is open to everyone. If everyone joins, it will then become the Association of the Town of Djenne, no longer the Imam's! The rules and statutes of the Association are the same as most others- It is the majority of the members that choose their President and management committee...

Tonight all the councillors of Djenne went to their respective neighbourhoods to make everyone adhere to the Imam's Association!

If this is not the wisdom of Solomon...?

I just had dinner with the sages of Timbuktu, who have arrived and will be greated by everyone tomorrow and will never know how close they came to being sent home again...!


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Yes, yes, the simplest idea can often be the best. Let us hope so here. I remain on the edge of my seat. In hope . . .

12:57 AM  
Blogger mary said...

You are a very brave woman and we wish you well. The manuscript saga has been an epic tale and I hope that the resolution works.We will watch the blog with fascination and admiration for all your efforts.

10:57 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

thank you Susan and Mary- all is well so far, the sages of Timbulktu have been introduced at the library, all is dert for tomorrow's big conference and and the and the overall plan will work, insh'allah!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Kim Hart said...

I am wondering how the experts from Timbuktu were able to travel to Djenne and how they are managing to exist back in Timbuktu with all the political problems? Or have they already decamped to somewhere more stable?

1:20 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

hello Kim- they are no longer in Timbuktu. One is in Segou, and one is in Bamako. It is possible to travel from Timbuktu and here- there is transport still. But it is risky. If you have a laptop or a camera for instance, it will be taken. One of these two has a library of manuscripts in Timbuktu. He has hidden it very well, as have most of the ohter provate library owners, who have mostly left Timbuktu. Interestingly, they are now bemoaning the fact that there has been virtually no digitization done in Timbuktu, although there was every opportunity for it. Therefore the treasures of Timbuktu could now be lost-

The Ahmed Baba Institurte has become some sort of Al Quaida Head Quarters. What will happen to the treasures of the Ahmed Baba Institute? Noone knows. All the contents could quite simply be air lifted out of Mali and whisked off to Quatar or Saudi Arabia, there is nothing to stop such a thing happening...

4:06 PM  

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