Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Road to Timbuktu

Timbuktu. A far and distant city. An exotic people. Myths and legends and strange, dangerous customs.

It’s all that and much more. Last weekend, I was privileged to attend an exhibition of the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu. Some of these manuscripts were from the 12th century and covered subjects as diverse as astrology and family law, astronomy and optics.

My favourite was Manuscript 776 (see photo). Written in the 16th century by the famed scholar Ahmed Baba, this work contains the lines that on the Day of Judgement the ink of scholars will be measured against the blood of the martyrs and will be found to be weightier.

I found this encouraging and I left the exhibition with a sense of calm and a renewed belief in the continuum of human existence: we live, we die and the words we write in between – no matter how mundane - carry so much responsibility. What is a mere list of possessions today can become the future’s only glimpse into our daily lives. What we think is a clich├ęd tradition can become the legend of tomorrow’s world.

For a writer, what can be more inspiring than this?

6 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas down in Africa! My MIL and FIL have been to Africa - I guess the Danes go there for holidays. I've never been.

Ann Victor said...

Thanks Kim! South Africa is a great place to visit so hope you make it here one day!

Jill Wheeler said...

Just wandered over from Nathan's contest. You should post something! It's scary, but exhilarating!

Ann Victor said...

Thanks for the encouragement Jill! Maybe Nathan's next competition! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

It's amazing, isn't it? Being a writer is such a weighty responsibility. I think we forget that sometimes because so many of us write. But even the Bible came from writers... and God himself inspired writers to continue His word.
We'd know very little about anything without the record of the written word. Lest we never forget the power of it.
Thanks for reminding me today!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

PK: Very true! As the old cliche goes, "the pen is mightier than the sword" and it behooves writers to wield that power wisely. :)