The Jutta Vogel Foundation supports a project to preserve ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Gerda-Henkel-Foundation and further international partners.
After important manuscripts were destroyed by rebels in Timbuktu in 2013 the remaining documents were saved through covert operations. They were transported to Bamako where they are in the process of being archived, studied and digitalized. These ancient manuscripts will thereby be preserved for future generations.
Mauretania: Field research on musical heritage of Mauritania
The culture of the Haratins – the former group of slaves in Mauritania, also called „black Moors“ - has never been studied intensely. Their music, their songs and dances have never been documented in a written form but have only been orally transmitted. Therefore some questions remain at the moment: What are the topics of the songs, what do the dances express and which instruments are still being played? What was the importance of the music and which importance is it still having today? Which traditions are still being followed and passed on to younger generations?
The same questions arise for the case of the „griots“, the „preservers of history“ who pass on this history in form of literature and music. This tradition is also at risk to get lost forever with the death of the old people. There remain still some of the peregrinating singers and players of the lute tidinit and there remain women who accompany their singing with the harp ardin.
At this point started the field research for documenting the musical heritage of Mauritania in April 2015. Supported by the Jutta Vogel foundation and by financial means of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the ethnomusicologist Edda Brandes and film maker Petra Buda have cooperated with Mauritanian partners. In the capital Nouakchott and the historical trading post Chinguetti in the north west of the country they have met artists practicing traditional and modern musical genres of the Mauritanian musical heritage.
The results of the research will be published on CDs and DVDs in order to recall something almost forgotten, to maintain current conditions and last but not least to get the young generation interested in passing on their own culture and make its musical richness become known far beyond the borders of their country.
Musical heritage of Mauritania
Musical heritage of Mauritania
Berlin: Mauritania’s Manuscripts – a critical evaluation former conversation projects and developing future strategies
Anticipated date: September 9 -10, 2015 Venue: ZMO, Kirchweg 33, 10829 Berlin
In today’s Mauritania the majority of the approximately 30.000 manuscripts are preserved in around 800 private family libraries. The majority of these manuscripts deals with religious topics mainly in the style of classical Islamic commentary literature. Furthermore, there are texts dealing with medicine, astronomy, literature, and history.
Despite these scholarly texts, personal family documents as well as sales contracts are stored. Therefore, the manuscripts represent an important part of the cultural heritage of the Sahara-Sahel-Region dating back beyond the 17th century. Manuscripts found in the regions of Southern Morocco, Southern Algeria, Southern Libya, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Northern Nigeria, Chad and Darfur (Sudan), represent a cultural heritage documenting the realm of Muslim scholars and traders networks and intellectual production that remains until today not fully explored. Due to different scales of involvement in preservation activities driven by the involved governments, these important historical sources are partly at risk. This is especially true for documents stored in Mauritania’s private libraries. Such collections of diverse written documents spanning periods of several centuries are highly exceptional for the African continent and promise, once they are explored, to shed a new light on the region’s historical development. Therefore, action for their preservation is instantly needed.
The previewed two-days-workshop aims for recording the status quo of so far accomplished preservation activities during the last decades in Mauritania for developing a realistic action plan for future arrangements. Academic specialists for the region with expertise in manuscript preservation or historical research will contribute to the debate with the invited stakeholders of local manuscript collections. Of a specialimportance is to reach a strong commitment for future cooperation between the owners of private collections and state institutions in order to secure the success of future arrangements and in the end to attract potential donors who are urgently needed to maintain the precious manuscript collections of Mauritania.
The results of the workshop will be published by June 2016.