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Violence in Mali has many concerned about historic manuscripts

Filed by KOSU News in Feature.
February 13, 2013

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Mali has seen a spate of violence in recent weeks, and there’s concerns not only about human life, but the centuries old manuscripts in the country. I talked with Michael Covitt, Chairman of the Malian Manuscript Foundation on Monday. He’s showing a documentary on the manuscripts this June in Edmond.

What about these manuscripts makes them vital?

“Each and every one of them is individual and has different information. It goes from poetry to jurisprudence. So they have every science you can possibly think of…These things are all written by hand, so they’re all unique to humanity.”

What can be done?

“It’s going to be a tough battle. Because at the end of the day, the information in these manuscripts are diamatically opposed to the thinking of the terrorists down in Mali.”

Do you think they set out to get rid of these?

“I think their end goal is to have a theocracy.”

How do you decide between protecting life and protecting an object?

“I don’t think the choice should be made. Obviously you have to protect the lives of the human beings over there because they are very good, kind people. Mali has a roadmap for peace for the entire world. And those people who hold this information should be protected at all costs.

The manuscripts, which ┬ámay be the most important literary find…of the 21st century, you can’t say let’s save one and not the other. There’s nothing more valuable than human life. But there’s information in these manuscripts that haven’t been brought to light yet which may be more valuable than anything we’ve seen in the last hundred or two hundred years.”

What’s your worst fear?

“My worst fear? That we’ll never know the information that was in these manuscripts.”


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