31 January 2013

South Africa: Arts and Culture Committee Slams Torching of Timbuktu Centre

press release

The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture has received with disappointment the reports that militants in Mali have burned down the Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research, which housed priceless manuscripts.

The burning down of the Centre means the destruction of valuable history not only for Mali, but for the world as a whole. The Committee is concerned about the impact that this reckless action will have on future generations as it will deprive them of the opportunity to see first-hand scholarly advances made in this continent.

The action also goes against the ethos of cultural revival as advocated by the African Union, and derails efforts to retrieve and protect Africa's cultural heritage for the purpose of reinforcing the uniqueness of the African identity.

The Centre, funded by the South African Government, was central to the development of Mali and the continent as a whole. This is because the Centre attracted visitors from around the world, resulting in economic participation by the people of Mali and surrounding countries. The heightened economic activity brought with it much needed employment opportunities, and would have resulted in more development around the area.

The Committee urges all Africans to remain proud of their culture and history. The Committee will continue to support initiatives aimed at retrieving and preserving of cultural heritage symbols that will assist in reinforcing African heritage. The Committee calls on proud Africans to actively work together in a bid to protect such cultural symbols.

For interviews with the Chairperson, Ms Thandile Babalwa Sunduza or media enquiries contact:

Issued by: Parliament of South Africa

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