The Guardian reported on Monday that Islamist rebels fleeing the north set fire to a library in Mali. Some of the manuscripts lost dated back to the 13th century. “Of course, human casualties are a tragedy,” a colleague said. But there is just something about irreplaceable ancient artifacts being destroyed that touches a nerve. We’ve been lucky enough to publish stories about travel to Mali before, so highlighted below are pieces from our archives about the culture and people of Mali.
In the beginning of 2012, writer Geoff Weiss and photographer Andrea Papitto traveled to Mali to highlight its beautiful towns, and cities. Originally slated for six stories, the series shifted to stories of refugees due to the humanitarian crisis in the north. Below are highlights from their travel and refugee series.
The duo kicked their journey off in the city of Timbuktu, where they admired the city’s ancient manuscripts, and vibrant center.
They continued their journey to the “Venice of Mali,” the river city of Mopti.
They finished their travel series in Djenne, and its Great Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As the series shifted to stories of refugees, we learned about people like Assan Midal, a 32 years old Tuareg in the tourism industry, who left Bamako for safety reasons.
From Mohamed Ag Amano, we read this firsthand account:
The situation in Mali right now, specifically in Bamako, has been deeply frightening to witness and, moreover, represents a violation of human rights. People in Bamako have destroyed and set fire to the homes of several Tuareg and Arab families.
As the conflict in Mali rages on, we’ll be bringing you more first hand accounts, expert opinions and analysis of the latest news.