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:

Namaste.