Episode 1


From Wales to Timbuktu is a two part series about the meeting of two cultures through the eyes and words of teenagers from mid Wales. In February 2009four specially selected students from Gwernyfed High School, Hay-on-Wye, travelled to Mali in Africa, on a 10 day literary adventure. Their aim was to immerse themselves in the culture of Timbuktu, Hay-on-Wye’s twin town. They recorded their experiences, observations and revelations by keeping diaries and writing notes. Key to their experience was the guidance of a writing mentor Tom Bullough a published author from Powys. Tom was involved in the selection process and encouraged them creatively, before, during and after their adventure. Hay-on-Wye and Timbuktu are twinned not just as municipalities but also through their fundamental association with literature and the world of books. The two ancient towns may be thousands of miles apart, but they lie on exactly the same line of longitude. Timbuktu is the oldest home of the written word in Africa. It has a large number of private and public libraries housing ancient Arabic and African manuscripts. Hay-on-Wye is the second hand book capital of the world. The small Welsh border town, renowned for its bookshops and its Guardian sponsored annual literary festival, fought off competition from 52 other British towns and villages, including York and Glastonbury, to twin with the ancient city in Mali, on the edge of the Sahara desert. Timbuktu, founded as a caravan trading post at least 1,000 years ago is a place of legend but its tangible and lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization is scholarship. Timbuktu is assumed to have had the first university in the world, with 25,000 students in the 1400’s. By the same time, important books were written and copied in Timbuktu, establishing the city as the centre of a significant written tradition in Africa. This two part series is engaging, rich and has a real legacy. From Wales to Timbuktu is a visual and literary narrative of an extraordinary cultural adventure.