Saving the world one book at a time

We were talking about Mali the other day at work. Well, it was that or reading 189 pages of a contract. Our brains cried “Foul!” and even the solicitor agreed.

In particular we talked about the loss of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research (although we said “Library”) in Timbuktu, set on fire by the Islamist Militia as they left. The Institute was a new one designed to house the incredible collection of manuscripts and books dating back 800 years.

Our solicitor is a well-informed person of taste and discernment.

“Never fear!” she declared. “Many books were indeed saved!”

She sent me this link to prove it.

Months of secret planning spared Timbuktu’s manuscripts

by Rukmini Callimachi

This is a story that deserves telling again. The man who had cared for the collection for 40 years removed the books and manuscripts one sack at a time in the night, sending them away to safety. It took him two weeks under the noses of the hard-line militia.

Abba Alhadi took simple steps with great courage to achieve what he needed to do. I am incredibly moved by this story; it tells me that small steps can and do make a difference. It gives me hope. It inspires me.

Rufus Jones memorably said:

I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.

The noise and bustle of larger events, of wars and protests and news conferences and summits, seem so far removed from most of us, so unattainable and unshakeable by our little doings, that we can lose faith. Today we can read about this man and know we too can make a difference, just by doing what is needful.

Other Bloggers for Peace speak more eloquently on their blogs:



5 thoughts on “Saving the world one book at a time

  1. Love this, EBL. Yes, that one person definitely made a difference in human knowledge and consciousness. With our access to the internet, we should be able to do ten times as much in our lifetimes. Let’s get to work or practice. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  2. What an inspiring real life story about the difference one person can make. I agree with Kozo that with our access to the internet we can use our voices to make similar differences. I recently heard Seth Godin say in an interview when referring to the access we have to the internet, social media, crowd funding on Kickstarter, etc. that if a person has an idea they want to pursue and if they are not afraid, and they care, then they can do it. The traditional barriers to getting ideas out into the world are starting to dissolve (at least for anyone that has regular access to the internet). Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

    • thank you for dropping by and saying hello!
      I think there remains a warning we need to keep in our minds: IF you have access to the Internet. This is where power games are being played both internationally and also eg by forcing the most vulnerable people, who have reduced access, to use the Internet to interact with government and authorities upon which they depend.

      • Agreed. There is definitely the concern of technological “haves” and “have nots” and this is absolutely an issue in today’s world that we need to be aware and from there we can hopefully look for solutions.

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