Timbuktu: whatever happened to the African Renaissance?

Hamou’s Majlis (Photo by Alexandra Huddleston)

Mali in the rainy season has its own rhythm, especially in the South: long days under heavy skies anticipating rain; moments when it comes so powerfully the world seems ready to end. Afterwards, a peculiar freshness and coolness, and new brown streams gurgling everywhere. With Ramadan coming soon, that rhythm will be syncopated, the regular beat of fasting, praying, and feasting punctuated by the shifting rhythm of the storms. Over the last few weeks, the rhythm of Mali’s ongoing political crisis had slowed to a painful shuffle, until last week’s assaults on the tombs of saints, scholars and prominent ancestors in Timbuktu punctuated a long, leaden moment. Continue reading