The Djenné Manuscript Library’s final digitization project with the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) of the British Library has drawn to a close and I am putting the last touches on the translation into English (from French) of the descriptions which accompany the digitized Djenné manuscripts. The documents are in Arabic, but the Djenné workers have translated the meta data into French.
It is a varied crop of documents : much repetition of traditional works of Islamic Jurisprudence ; numerous copies of the Quran as well as other religious material such as Hadiths (traditional stories from the life and times of the Prophet Mohammad). There is correspondance and advice on how to write letters ; there is some history (we have two copies of the famous Tarik-Al Sudan, (1655), partly written in Djenné by Abd al-Sadi, which chronicles the Songhai Empire. We have plenty of texts which concerns Sufism. And we have hundreds- no thousands-of manuscripts which deal with magic…Djenne’s speciality. This was an interesting one :
« How to find fortune and be admired by others by the use of quranic verses and the names of Allah in conjunction with the flesh and skin of the Uromastyx lizard… »
I remember this lizard- I would sometimes see it when out riding- it is not the common type which one sees everywhere around Djenné.
Although some orthodox factions in Islam would question certain magic practises in Djenné, the Djenné marabouts believe that because their magic is exercised in connection with verses from the Quran it is definitely legitimate.
Meanwhile the Timbuktu project has seen its first working week- above a ‘family picture’ of the team by the Imam Essayouti Library.
And, on the home front, I went to the lovely city of Folkestone yesterday with Mali veterans Pia, Andrew and Yonatani. A seed has been planted…
I cannot think of anywhere more beautiful to live than in a large flat on the top of the cliff with views over the channel all the way to France on a clear day ! And just around the corner, for sunset drinks on the veranda, is the fabulous Grand Hotel, which someone aptly called the Chelsea Hotel of Folkestone. It also reminded me of the Lido in Venice in its Edwardian faded splendour. Could this be the Future ?