The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu

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Aminatta Forna tells the story of legendary Timbuktu and its long hidden legacy of hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts. With its university founded around the same time as Oxford, Timbuktu is proof that the reading and writing of books have long been as important to Africans as to Europeans. Viewers meet local scholars, as well as experts from across Africa and the Western world, who elucidate just how valuable these fragile treasures are to our knowledge of Africa, Islam, and the growth of literacy outside the Western tradition. The program also asks how differently would Africa have developed if the libraries hadn’t been lost.