An impressive delegation consisting of the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon , the United Nations Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief Minusma Albert Koenders, the President of the World Bank Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the Prime Minister Mr Oumar Tatam Ly, the Commissioner of the European Union development Mr. Andris Piebalgs, visited the legendary city of 333 holy saints.
The delegation first visited the great mosque of Djingareyber where the Imam Mr Essayouty explained to the delegation the famous history of Djingareyber mosque— classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
According to the Imam , that mosque used to be a famous learning center in Mali . Its design was accredited to Abu Eshq Es Sahel who was paid 200 kg or 40000 muthgal of gold by Mansan Kankan Moussa, Emperor of Mali. Except for a small part of the northern facade which was built in limestone, the mosque of Djingareyber is entirely made of earth or soil plus organic materials such as fibres, straw and wood. Inside it there are inner courts yards, two minarets and twenty five raw of pillars, and prayer space for 2000 people. Mr. Ban-Ki-moon and his delegation were very impressed to hear the famous history of the mosque of Djingareyber. He explain for the imam of Timbuktu that he heard about the ancient city of Timbuktu and its historic sites all his life and that today he saw the beautiful architecture of that famous mosque.
After the visit to the great mosque the delegation went to the Institute of High Studies and Islamic Research for a conference with local authorities of Timbuktu, notables of Timbuktu, religious leaders of all the communities living in Timbuktu (Fulani Songhai, Moor, Tamasheq, Arabic Touareg, and so on. …).
Before the conference the Secretary General, the president of World Bank and the Commissioner for the European Union for Development explained that the goal of their visit in the legendary city of 333 holy saints is the rebuilding and restoration of the world heritage sites of Timbuktu.
That conference started with the speech of the governor of Timbuktu, Mr Mamadou Mangara, who thanked the delegation for that important visit to the legendary city of 333 holy saints.
According to the Governor : “the ancient city of Timbuktu had known a lot of conquest and occupation in the past but people of Timbuktu are tolerant and pacifist and practice a tolerant Islam and live with tolerance toward other religions. The economy of that city is essentially based on tourist activity but since kidnapping of westerners, touareg revolution and Islamist militant invasions in northern regions of Mali there is no more tourism in the region of Timbuktu.”
It’s important to notice that 95% of habitants of Timbuktu are living thanks to the incomes of tourist activity. These populations are generally in handicraft. During the crisis a large majority of touareg blacksmiths who worked in that sector fled the city and today they are living in refugee’s camps. Today they hope for peace and security in order to come back to their homes. Before the crisis thousands of tourists from all over the world visited the ancient city of Timbuktu and visited toaureg camps by camels.
After the speech of the governor the secretary general Mr Ban Ki-moon made an address to the audience. He first thanked people of Timbuktu for the good reception and explained that their visit in Timbuktu is to express their solidarity to help authorities of Mali and Sahel regions in the process of maintaining peace and security. Mr Ban Ki-moon explained in his address that he was very touched by the destruction of shrines and the burning of ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu. He ends his address by this quote “the united nations will always be with Mali.. The audience’s acclamation sounded in the hall of the Institute of High Studies and Islamic Research with the acclamation that one can understand in the sound the melody of hope for development and how important was that visit of the secretary general for people of Timbuktu. This delegation’s visit to the mysterious city is a sign of international support for Mali and in the Sahel regions. Despite the effect of the terrorist occupation one can see in the faces of audiences today that they are ready for change and opportunities to overcome life challenges.
According to the mayor of Timbuktu Mr. Hallé Ousmane Cissé, thanks to the support of the United Nations and partners populations of Timbuktu has benefited since the crisis up to now. He also underlined the important role that the United Nations played in education, health, and electricity for population of Timbuktu.
Afterwards Mr Abdramane ben essayouty, chairman of the religious leaders of Timbuktu and Imam of the great mosque of Djingareyber explain in his speech that the delegation’s visit in Timbuktu shows the love that they feel for Timbuktu. He also underlines that people of Timbuktu practice an Islam which is based in tolerance and the respect of other religions. He also said that people of Timbuktu are pacifist because they have known a lot of conquerors in the past.
It’s important to notice that all the representatives of different communities living in Timbuktu express their thanks for the visit. In their speeches all underline “national reconciliation between Malians”
The touareg community representative explained in his speech that toureg and other ethnic groups are compelled to live together without racism.
In what concerns development and job creation for the youth of Timbuktu, the representative of youth explained to the conference the lack of job opportunities for the younger generation of Timbuktu.
The great conference ended with addresses of Mr. Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister Mr Oumar Tatam Ly.
According to Ban Ki-moon the United Nations and the international community are committed to help the government in the process of reconstruction of Mali.
The prime minister reaffirms the commitment of the government of Mali for the development of the northern regions of Mali in general and the creation of job opportunities for the youth of northern regions of Mali.
Since the liberation of the ancient city of Timbuktu by the French army “operation serval” important leaders visited the historic city all focus on development ,rebuilding, and restoration of its ancient historic sites.
It’s important to remind our readers that the city was occupied by touareg revolutionaries and Islamist militants in 2012. During the occupation ancient city of Timbuktu was ruled under sharia law. Innocent people endured all manner of inhuman abuses and humiliation. During the occupation Islamists destroyed the identity of the people of Timbuktu, which are shrines. Among these shrines there is shrine of the saint “Sidi Mahamoud”, classified shrines of UNESCO in the world.
The treasure of Timbuktu, meaning the ancient manuscripts, which represent their human identity ,were burned by the Islamist militants before they fled the ancient city. Today people of Timbuktu hope for change and development .
the visit of Secretary General and his delegation shows us that the world is mobilized for rebuilding Mali and the spirit of the northern regions of Mali. Malians must be united as brothers and sisters and must come to the table of national reconciliation.
El Hadj Djitteye
Editor : John H Sime