Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My cold is gradually gravitating downwards and I now sound like a bullfrog. Unfortunately, this means I am not going anywhere for a few days, so no reading group and no Tamil class (it would be a four hour round trip to London for both and I am wimping out and staying home). In theory this should mean more reading time...hmmm, why isn't that happening?

Thanks to the musical Dave for drawing my attention to Reporters Without Borders' latest report on country by country internet baddies. This is actually very interesting reading, because of course the blogworld can be constrained by governments which don't take well to criticism. The Mail & Guardian reports that an Egyptian blogger has been both expelled from university and now arrested because of his writing. Read more here.

South Africa, the USA and Norway are involved in a project preserving Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts. The Sahara is rapidly engulfing the city, which has led to an attempt to locate as many manuscripts buried in the area as possible:
Researchers in Timbuktu are fighting to preserve tens of thousands of ancient texts which they say prove Africa had a written history at least as old as the European Renaissance.

Private and public libraries in the fabled Saharan town in Mali have already collected 150 000 brittle manuscripts, some of them from the 13th century, and local historians believe many more lie buried under the sand.

The texts were stashed under mud homes and in desert caves by proud Malian families whose successive generations feared they would be stolen by Moroccan invaders, European explorers and then French colonialists...Timbuktu's leading families have only recently started to give up what they see as ancestral heirlooms. They are being persuaded by local officials that the manuscripts should be part of the community's shared culture...

But as the fame of the manuscripts spreads, conservationists fear those that have survived centuries of termites and extreme heat will be sold to tourists at extortionate prices or illegally trafficked out of the country... - Reuters
I had no idea that the universities of Timbuktu "were attended by 25 000 scholars in the 16th century." Fascinating stuff. For more on "Operation Timbuktu" read Nick Tattersall's article in full, and if you want further background he's written another on the founding fathers in Bamako.

Since Kiran Desai's THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS won the Man Booker, copies of the book have landed in many a To Be Read pile. Lotus Reads just posted an interesting review (without plot spoilers). Possibly not paying attention, I hadn't realized there might be anything controversial about the book, but have just discovered this little storm in a teacup! Not having read the book, I can't comment, but those of you who have - does it warrant book burning and apologies?!

2 Comments:

Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Sorry that your cold is taking so long to heal. Fascinating about your Tamil class - how is it going? I speak a smattering of Tamil,I'm a lot more proficient in Hindi! :)

Thanks for the plug..I didn't know the Nepalese in Kalimpong were upset by her portrayal of them! Thanks for the headsup, I definitely want to find out more.

4:38 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Our vannakkam is your namaste, lotus reads, but beyond that is all still pretty mysterious. I've gotten quite good at written Tamil (very beautiful script) but I'm still terrified to open my mouth. I'll have a baptism of fire in a couple of weeks when I meet an elderly great aunt at the airport on my own, and she doesn't speak English at all!

1:53 pm  

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