Blaise Compaore Apologizes for Thomas Sankara’s Death?

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

Yes you are not dreaming, nor am I joking. Blaise Compaoré, the past president of Burkina Faso, the one who murdered his friend and comrade President Thomas Sankara, has ‘apologized’ to his family. Is it for real? What is going on? Is Compaoré dying? Why the sudden regrets? or is he hoping to come back in power with the new military ruler? Should we applaud for him? NO! We are candidly interested in your apologies… but brother Compaoré, you need to pay! Tell us how you did it! Give us details! Tell us, who helped you; tell us where our brothers, mothers, sisters, fathers bodies are, and share some of the wealth you have acquired illicitly on our backs for the many years of regression and suffering at your hand. And what about Norbert Zongo [May 3rd: World Press Day – Norbert Zongo]? And then, the message read by the speaker goes, “I hope that we can move forward from now on …” Wait a second, so you can send a letter read by someone else, and you expect us to clap and just turn the page? Oh, I am so sick of people saying words, no actions, and expecting us to just forget, and move on! Actions speak louder than words! As you read, do you think Compaoré is really sorry? Excerpts below are from the BBC.

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Flag of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s ex-President Blaise Compaoré has apologised to the family of Thomas Sankara, his charismatic predecessor who was shot dead during a coup in 1987.

In April, Mr Compaoré was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the assassination. He had always described the death as an accident [Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara].

Mr Compaoré has lived in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast since 2014 when he was ousted in a popular uprising after 27 years in power [Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2014?].

I ask the people of Burkina Faso to forgive me for all the acts I committed during my term of office, especially to the family of my brother and friend Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara,” Mr Compaoré said in a statement.

I take responsibility and deplore, from the bottom of my heart, all the sufferings and dramas experienced by all the victims during my mandates at the head of the country and ask their families to forgive me. I hope that we can move forward from now on to rebuild our common destiny on the land of our ancestors.

The message was delivered to military ruler Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who took power in a coup in January, by an Ivorian delegation accompanied by the former president’s daughter Djamila Compaoré.

Patrice Lumumba’s Remains Land in Congo and His Last Letter to His Wife

Patrice Lumumba

As the remains, the golden tooth, of Patrice Lumumba is finally getting returned to his family and his nation after over 60 years, I felt it was necessary to share here Patrice Lumumba’s beautiful letter to his wife which happens to be his last letter. Although it is a sad letter, it is full of hope at the thought that one day Congo will be free. Roland Lumumba, his son, said in his interview to France24, “Only the dead can forgive, the living do not have the right to forget.” Entirely true… Lumumba would not allow us to forget his fight for the Congolese freedom, just as he would not want us to forget those who died at the hands of King Leopold II in the rubber plantations of Congo (King Leopold II and the Congolese genocide)… it is part of our history. As we fight for our freedom, we need to remember, and get inspired from the fight of those who came before us.

Almost a decade ago, I published the letter here on Afrolegends.com, and it has gained in significant popularity since then. La Dernière Lettre de Patrice Lumumba / Patrice Lumumba’s Last Letter. Enjoy!

Ma compagne chérie, Je t’écris ces mots sans savoir s’ils te parviendront, quand ils te parviendront et si je serai en vie lorsque tu les liras.  Tout au long de ma lutte pour l’indépendance de mon pays, je n’ai jamais douté un seul instant du triomphe final de la cause sacrée à laquelle mes compagnons et moi avons consacré toute notre vie.  Mais ce que nous voulions pour notre pays, son droit à une vie honorable, à une dignité sans tache, à une indépendance sans restrictions, le colonialisme et ses alliés occidentaux—qui ont trouvé des soutiens directs et indirects, délibérés et non délibérés, parmi certains hauts fonctionnaires des Nations, cet organisme en qui nous avons placé toute notre confiance lorsque nous avons fait appel à son assistance—ne l’ont jamais voulu.

Ils ont corrompu certains de nos compatriotes. Ils ont contribué à déformer la vérité et à souiller notre indépendance.  Que pourrai je dire d’autre ? 

Que mort, vivant, libre ou en prison sur ordre des colonialistes, ce n’est pas ma personne qui compte.  C’est le Congo, c’est notre pauvre peuple dont on a transformé l’indépendance en une cage d’où l’on nous regarde du dehors, tantôt avec cette compassion bénévole, tantôt avec joie et plaisir.  Mais ma foi restera inébranlable.  Je sais et je sens au fond de moi même que tôt ou tard mon peuple se débarrassera de tous ses ennemis intérieurs et extérieurs, qu’il se lèvera comme un seul homme pour dire non au capitalisme dégradant et honteux, et pour reprendre sa dignité sous un soleil pur.

Nous ne sommes pas seuls.  L’Afrique, l’Asie et les peuples libres et libérés de tous les coins du monde se trouveront toujours aux côtés de millions de congolais qui n’abandonneront la lutte que le jour où il n’y aura plus de colonisateurs et leurs mercenaires dans notre pays.  A mes enfants que je laisse, et que peut-être je ne reverrai plus, je veux qu’on dise que l’avenir du Congo est beau et qu’il attend d’eux, comme il attend de chaque Congolais, d’accomplir la tâche sacrée de la reconstruction de notre indépendance et de notre souveraineté, car sans dignité il n’y a pas de liberté, sans justice il n’y a pas de dignité, et sans indépendance il n’y a pas d’hommes libres.

Ni brutalités, ni sévices, ni tortures ne m’ont jamais amené à demander la grâce, car je préfère mourir la tête haute, la foi inébranlable et la confiance profonde dans la destinée de mon pays, plutôt que vivre dans la soumission et le mépris des principes sacrés.  L’histoire dira un jour son mot, mais ce ne sera pas l’histoire qu’on enseignera à Bruxelles, Washington, Paris ou aux Nations Unies, mais celle qu’on enseignera dans les pays affranchis du colonialisme et de ses fantoches.  L’Afrique écrira sa propre histoire et elle sera au nord et au sud du Sahara une histoire de gloire et de dignité.

Ne me pleure pas, ma compagne.  Moi je sais que mon pays, qui souffre tant, saura défendre son indépendance et sa liberté.

Vive le Congo !  Vive l’Afrique !

Patrice Lumumba

My beloved companion, I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, and whether I shall still be alive when you read them.  All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives.  But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies, who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organization in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.

They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others.  They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour.  How could I speak otherwise? 

Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not myself who counts.  It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure But my faith will remain unshakeable.  I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say No to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.

We are not alone.  Africa, Asia and the free liberated people from all corners of the world will always be found at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there are no longer any colonialists and their mercenaries in our country.  As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, to be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that their country expects them, as it expects every Congolese, to fulfill the sacred task of rebuilding our independence, our sovereignty; for without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.  History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets.  Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife.  I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo!  Long live Africa!

Patrice Lumumba

The Only Remain of Lumumba Finally Returned, 61 years after His Assassination

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Patrice Lumumba

In 2020, Patrice Lumumba’s Children asked the Belgian King Philip for their Father’s Remains in an open letter. Today, Lumumba‘s golden tooth has been returned to his family and country 61 years after his assassination. For the history, Patrice Lumumba was the prime minister of Congo in 1960, and was assassinated by a coalition led by Belgium, and the US in 1961. At the time of his assassination, it was decided that no trace would be left of his body; thus Belgian officer Gerard Soete and his team dug up and, with a saw dismembered the corpse of Lumumba and his comrades Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo, and dissolved them in sulfuric acid while the bones were ground and scattered. We know this from a documentary which aired in 2000 where Soete showed two teeth which he said had belonged to Lumumba. He had taken Lumumba’s teeth as souvenir.  In 2016, Ludo De Witte, author of the book “The assassination of Lumumba,” lodged a legal complaint against Soete’s daughter after she showed a gold tooth, which she said had belonged to Lumumba, during an interview with a newspaper. De Witte’s work has been essential in shattering the official Belgian government silence regarding the assassination of Lumumba.

I cannot imagine what Lumumba’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and all children of mother Congo must feel… it is so painful! It is like the beginning of some closure for the family. Is what was done to Lumumba not considered a crime against humanity? Is returning Lumumba’s tooth supposed to be enough?

Below are some excerpts from the BBC article, “Patrice Lumumba: Why Belgium is returning a Congolese hero’s golden tooth.”

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Lumumba’s Children during the return of his tooth in Belgium (Source: TheBusinessExecutive.net)

A gold-crowned tooth is all that remains of assassinated Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba.

Shot dead by a firing squad in 1961 with the tacit backing of former colonial power Belgium, his body was then buried in a shallow grave, dug up, transported 200 km (125 miles), interred again, exhumed and then hacked to pieces and finally dissolved in acid.

The Belgian police commissioner, Gerard Soete, who oversaw and participated in the destruction of the remains took the tooth, he later admitted.

He also talked about a second tooth and two of the corpse’s fingers, but these have not been found.

The tooth has now been returned to the family at a ceremony in Brussels.

Soete’s impulse to pocket the body parts echoed the behaviour of European colonial officials down the decades who took remains back home as macabre mementoes.

For Lumumba’s daughter, Juliana, the question is whether the perpetrators were human. What amount of hatred must you have to do that?” she asks.

This is a reminder of what happened with the Nazis, taking pieces of people – and that’s a crime against humanity,” she told the BBC.

Nevertheless, there seemed to be a personal element to the way Lumumba was vilified and pursued. The total destruction of the body, as well as a way to get rid of the evidence, seems like an effort to obliterate Lumumba from the memory. There would be no memorial, making it almost possible to deny that he existed at all. It was not enough just to bury him.

But he is still remembered.

[Juliana Lumumba] recognises that her father “belongs to the country, because he died for Congo… and for his own values and convictions of the dignity of the African person.

She acknowledges that the handing over of the tooth in Belgium and bringing it back to the Democratic Republic of Congo is symbolic “because what remains is not really enough. But he has to come back to his country where his blood was shed.”

The tooth will be taken around the vast country before being buried in the capital.

….

Life in Walata in 1352: an Ancient City of the Ghana Empire

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Map of the Ghana Empire ca 300 -1200

In the past, we have talked about the great Ghana Empire of West Africa whose main center of trade was Koumbi Saleh, and whose economy was based around gold, salt, copper, and other goods. The imports included textiles, ornaments, and other materials. Many of the handcrafted leather goods found in old Morocco also had their origins in the Ghana Empire. Several strong cities of the Ghana Empire are today on the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as Koumbi Saleh, OuadaneChinguetti,or Oualata. The historian and scholar Ibn Battuta visited Oualata in 1352, and gives an amazing report of the people of Oualata (Walata). Enjoy! These can be found in the Travels of Ibn Battuta called A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling, better known as the Rihla (or “travels”). In Oualata, Ibn Battuta mentions his amazement that the society is matrilineal which he had not seen before anywhere in the world except among Indians of Malabar, and notices the importance of women in the society, and how they are well-treated, and mutual respect between men and women. A lot of these traditions are still be observed throughout Africa today.

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Ghana Empire_Oualata old town and new ruins can be seen
Aerial view of Oualata which was north west of Koumbi Saleh, and part of the Ghana empire. Ruins of the ancient city can be seen (Wikipedia)

My stay at Iwalatan [Walata] lasted about fifty days; and I was shown honour and entertained by its inhabitants. It is an excessively hot place, and boasts a few small date-palms, in the shade of which they sow watermelons. Its water comes from underground waterbeds at that point, and there is plenty of mutton to be had. The garments of its inhabitants, most of whom belong to the Massufa tribe, are of fine Egyptian fabrics.

Their women are of surpassing beauty, and are shown more respect than the men. The state of affairs amongst these people is indeed extraordinary. Their men show no signs of jealousy whatever; no one claims descent from his father, but on the contrary from his mother’s brother. A person’s heirs are his sister’s sons, not his own sons. This is a thing which I have seen nowhere in the world except among the Indians of Malabar. But those are heathens; these people are Muslims, punctilious in observing the hours of prayer, studying books of law, and memorizing the Koran. Yet their women show no bashfulness before men and do not veil themselves, though they are assiduous in attending the prayers. Any man who wishes to marry one of them may do so, but they do not travel with their husbands, and even if one desired to do so her family would not allow her to go.

Ghana Empire_Trans-Saharan routes early
Ghana Empire and its Trans-Saharan trade routes (Wikipedia)

The women there have “friends” and “companions” amongst the men outside their own families, and the men in the same way have “companions” amongst the women of other families. A man may go into his house and find his wife entertaining her “companion” but he takes no objection to it. One day at Iwalatan I went into the qadi’s house, after asking his permission to enter, and found with him a young woman of remarkable beauty. When I saw her I was shocked and turned to go out, but she laughed at me, instead of being overcome by shame, and the qadi said to me “Why are you going out? She is my companion.” I was amazed at their conduct, for he was a theologian and a pilgrim [to Mecca] to boot. I was told that he had asked the sultan’s permission to make the pilgrimage that year with his “companion”–whether this one or not I cannot say–but the sultan would not grant it.

World’s First Set of Nonuplets is 1-year Old!

Mali_Nonuplets
Halima Cisse, mother of nonuplets and the medical team in Morocco (Source: Africafreedomnetwork.com)

Can you imagine trying for one baby and ending up with 9 at once? It has been one year since the birth of the world’s first set of nonuplets. Conceived naturally, a first in the world, the 5 girls and 4 boys have all survived and are healthy and growing well. The parents, Abdelkader Arby and Halima Cissé, are from Mali. The babies have been taken care of by a full medical team in a hospital in Morocco. Initially, the medical teams both in Mali and then later in Morocco thought Halima Cissé was expecting septuplets, and so they were all surprised to find 9 babies in the end. Again, I salute the wisdom of the Malian government who saw fit to have the mother transferred to Morocco for more advanced specialist care; and I salute the immense dedication of the Moroccan team and government to the well-being of the babies. Excerpts below are from an article on the BBC website.

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The nonuplets (Source: BBC)

The world’s only nonuplets – nine babies born at the same time – are “in perfect health” as they celebrate their first birthday, their father has told the BBC.

They’re all crawling now. Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something,” said Abdelkader Arby, an officer in the Malian army.

They are still in the care of the clinic in Morocco where they were born.

He said their mother Halima Cissé, 26, was also doing well.

It’s not easy but it’s great. Even if it’s tiring at times, when you look at all the babies in perfect health, [in a line] from right to left we’re relieved. We forget everything,” he told BBC Afrique.

He has just returned to Morocco for the first time in six months, along with their elder daughter, Souda, aged three.

They will just have a small birthday celebration with the nurses and a few people from their apartment building, Mr Arby said.

Nothing is better than the first year. We will remember this great moment …”

The babies broke the Guinness World Record for the most children delivered in a single birth to survive.

Mrs Cissé and the children are currently living in what their father described as a “medicalised flat” that belongs to the owners of the Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca where the babies were born.

There are nurses who are here, in addition to my wife, who help to take care of the children,” Mr Arby said.

… [The] boys are called Mohammed VI [in honor of the Moroccan king], Oumar, Elhadji, Bah [in honor of the Malian president at the time], while the girls are named Kadidia, Fatouma, Hawa, Adama and Oumou.

Each one has a unique personality, their father said.

They all have different characters. Some are quiet, while other make more noise and cry a lot. Some want to be picked up all the time. They are all very different, which is entirely normal.”

Mr Arby also thanked the Malian government for its help. The Malian state has put everything in place for the care and treatment of the nine babies and their mother. It’s not at all easy, but it’s beautiful and something that is comforting,” he said.

Everyone [in Mali] is very keen to see the babies with their own eyes – their family, friends, our home village, the whole country.”

How Africa Copes with the War in Ukraine: Clean Energy Alternatives

oil3In recent weeks, we have all felt the effects of the war in Ukraine, particularly at the gas pump. Prices keep going up everyday, forcing many to either stop driving, start biking, use public transportation, or switch to electric or hybrid vehicles when possible. The gas prices unfortunately affect almost everything else, such as the cost of food, given that it costs more to transport from the place of production to the stores. Today, we will highlight two African inventors who have been working on energy alternatives for quite a while now, but have now come to the forefront thanks to the crisis in Ukraine.

RDC_Elie Tubani
Elie Tubani (Source: Le Journal TV5 Monde)

Meet Elie Tubani, a Congolese University student in Goma, in Democratic Republic of the Congo, who has successfully powered cars with butane gas used for cooking. The city of Goma is located on the shores of Lake Kivu, which is known to be rich in methane; it is one of 3 lakes in the world, all in Africa, that undergo limnic eruptions, the African Lake with Explosive Power. Thus, Tubani’s invention is very important for Goma, the entire region, and using what the country has (natural gas) for energy production. As a side note, neighboring Rwanda has been using methane from Lake Kivu for electricity.

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Maxwell Chikumbutso presenting his hybrid helicopter (Source: GlobalBlackHistory.com)

Now comes Maxwell Chikumbutso, an inventor from Zimbabwe. Chikumbutso has created a Radio-frequency powered television: no power cable needed, and the TV is powered purely by radio waves similar to WiFi and Bluetooth. He said to The Herald, “With an RF-powered generator embedded on a TV set, it is now possible for many people to enjoy watching TV whilst they are off-grid. For me, this started off as a dream in 2003, but today it’s now a reality. We have successfully developed a solution that powers televisions, smartphones, laptop computers, fridges just to name a few.” His invention is a green energy solution, as it converts radio frequencies into clean renewable energy. Lately, he has manufactured a hybrid helicopter which runs on 6 different types of fuel, a green power generator which produces electricity with radio frequencies, cordless televisions, an electric car which does not need to be charged (watch out Elon Musk, there might be some competition in the future), and much more. Chikumbutso is the founder of Saith Holdings Inc.. Unfortunately, he has not had much support from the government; he was not able to patent his work because the authorities said that his inventions violated the laws of physics. To learn more about him and his inventions, please check out this article at the Perimeter and The Hub.News.

Now, these inventors remain underrated as our African governments still seem to think that great inventions will come from the West, or given that their agenda and development are run by foreign entities, their hands are tied. It is high time that Africans understand that in order to be competitive in the future, we need to be industrialized, and we have the manpower for it, as well as great minds that will propel us forward. Our deliverance will not come from the west or the east, as they after all look for their own interests not ours, but we have the potential to address our own problems directly with solutions that work for us. Is it not about time Africa believed in herself?

Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara

Thomas Sankara

On Wednesday 06 April 2022, a court in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (Who killed Thomas Sankara? The Trial starts in Burkina Faso) has found the former president Blaise Compaoré guilty of the murder of president Thomas Sankara. In reality, it was no secret that Compaoré had killed Sankara, his former friend and companion of arms. We all knew who did it, but during Compaoré’s 27-year reign, Sankara’s demise was taboo, plus the French government’s complicity in it did not help either. Given that Compaoré is now in exile in Ivory Coast, the condemnation is in absentia, and the sentence is life imprisonment. Two of Compaoré’s former top associates, Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendéré, were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Compaoré will probably never set foot in Burkina Faso again, especially given that as the coward that he is, he now has Ivorian nationality so as not to get extradited. It took over 34 years to begin to bring some sense of closure to the family of Thomas Sankara and to all of us. Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara said at the courthouse, that she was relieved, and stated, ” … the people of Burkina Faso and the public opinion know now who is Thomas Sankara, … the man, … the politician, … what he wanted and what those who assassinated him wanted too.”

Flag of Burkina Faso

This is a monumental decision not just for Burkina Faso, but for the whole of Africa. It also shows that we, Africans, do not need the Hague Court to judge our own, and that we can make correct decisions. As such the lawyer for the Sankara family, Guy Hervé Kam stated to Reuters, “Today I am very proud to see the culmination of a legal battle of almost 30 years, proud to have a country where justice works.”

Below are excerpts from the BBC.

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Blaise Compaoré

Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power. The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983. 

Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle. …

He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.

… the verdict was greeted by applause in the courtroom following the six-month trial that came after years of campaigning for justice by his family and supporters.

However, there is little prospect that Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon. He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality. He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham. …

Ten others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara. He has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence. They had both denied the charges.

Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.

… Eight other defendants received sentences ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.

Timbuktu Manuscripts now Available Online

Manuscripts a Tombouctou (Mali) montrant de l'astronomie et mathematique
Manuscripts a Tombouctou (Mali) montrant de l’astronomie et mathematique

I am happy to announce that the Timbuktu manuscripts are now available online. Can you imagine that? Treasures of our ancestors, writings, judgments, mathematical concepts, architectural findings, from those great scribes of ancient times. Up to 40,000 pages will now be available online, covering wide topics from biology to music to religion. 

Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu
Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

With the Islamic attacks on Mali, Timbuktu has been under occupation since 2012 (Tensions Escalating in Mali). As you all know Timbuktu was a great center of knowledge in search for many centuries starting at least in the 12th century. It was visited by people from around the world, in search of knowledge. There were over 700,000 manuscripts at the great Sankore University in Timbuktu, and many more at other public and private libraries including the  Ahmed Baba InstituteAl-Wangari Library, and others (Lost Libraries of Timbuktu, Timbuktu under Attacks: Arise to save African Treasures). Many families smuggled the manuscripts to safety from Timbuktu to the capital of Bamako. The manuscripts contain centuries of African knowledge and scholarship on topics ranging from mathematics to astrological charts, biology, geography, laws, etc. They were written on various materials ranging from ancient paper, goat, sheep and even fish skins. Some were written in verse, poetic meter, while others in narrative styles using dialogues, stories of kings, scribes, noblemen, fables, anecdotes. They were renowned in the world for their physical beauty and outstanding wisdom.

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Dr Abdel Kader Haidara talking about the manuscripts of Timbuktu

In 2014, Dr Abdel Kader Haidara known for his work on the protection and preservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts and who smuggled over 350,000 manuscripts out of the city away from the jihadists, called on Google and invited the company to visit Mali and see the renowned manuscripts and join in the digitization of these treasures. Thus the collection Mali Magic was born as a collaboration between Google, local, and international partners. It took several years of combined efforts from Mali’s traditional leaders, historians, and digital archaeologists to digitize these ancient manuscripts, some dating back to the 11th century

Enjoy this article on the BBC website, and do not forget to visit the amazing work Mali Magic. The Library of Congress has also placed some manuscripts online. 

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Manuscript of Timbuktu (Google Arts and Culture)
 
 

Diébédo F. Kéré : First African to Win Prestigious Architecture Prize

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Diébédo Francis Kéré (Source: Azuremagazine.com)

Diébédo Francis Kéré, an architect from Burkina Faso, has just won the prestigious Pritzker prize which some call the Nobel prize of Architecture. With this, Kéré is the first African to ever win such a prestigious award. He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of DesignYale School of Architecture and the Swiss Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. In 2017 he accepted the professorship for “Architectural Design and Participation” at TU München in Germany where he has been living since 1985.

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Opera Village in Burkina Faso – Diébédo Francis Kéré’s work (Source: arquitecturaviva.com)

A lot of Kéré’s work is focused on the African continent: parliament buildings in Burkina Faso and Benin, schools and health center in Burkina Faso, and the National Park of Mali. He has also worked on projects in Germany, the United States, and Great Britain among which is the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Light is at the center of his designs because growing up in Burkina Faso, sometimes in the classroom, it was very hot from the weather (Burkina Faso has few rains due to the proximity to the Sahel) and from so many children all bunched together, but there was not much light inside; plenty sunlight outside, no light and too hot inside. Growing up Kéré thought that he could improve the designs and make the life of children in his village and beyond better.

Kéré Architecture is currently working on a new parliamentary building inspired by the palaver tree. It is, he told NPR, a West African symbol of consensus building, and he hopes the building will reflect a commitment both to tradition and democratic process. “Literally speaking, it is a tree under which people come together to make decisions, to celebrate,”…

Burkina Faso - Diebedo Kere_Interior of the Serpentine Pavilion_KereArchitecture_PhotobyIwanBaan
Interior of the Serpentine Pavilion in London – Diébédo Francis Kéré (photo by Iwan Baan – Kerearchitecture.com)

He told the Pritzker prize that, “I grew up in a community where there was no kindergarten, but where community was your family. Everyone took care of you and the entire village was your playground. My days were filled with securing food and water, but also simply being together, talking together, building houses together. I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come closer and form a safe place. This was my first sense of architecture.

The Pritzker Prize website, the LA Times, BBC, and NPR all had really good articles on him. Take the time to read and enjoy!

Revisiting the Mpemba Effect … in Reverse

A while back, I told you about the Mpemba effect, a physics effect demonstrated by a Tanzanian high school student in 1963, Erasto Mpemba, whereby hot water freezes faster than cold water. This is a ‘modern’ (after the 1960s) physics law made in Africa, by an African high schooler, and named after an African (history is full of cases of ‘intellectual’ misnaming i.e. naming the work of an African or others after a European). 

Flag of Tanzania

More recently, scientists John Bechhoefer at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and colleagues, have experimentally demonstrated the Mpemba effect in reverse, also called inverse Mpemba effect, where they observed that under specific conditions a cold particle will heat up faster than a warmer counterpart. The team used optical tweezers to create a tilted double-well potential that confined a colloidal particle, and then measured the particle’s response as a function of its initial temperature. The new measurements indicate the inverse Mpemba effect is much weaker than the conventional, forward effect. The work also experimentally corroborates some of the predicted mechanisms behind both the forward and the inverse effects. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January. Excerpts below are from Physics Today; check out the full article which also goes into detail about Erasto Mpemba, and explains the effect in depth. Enjoy!

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Map of Tanzania

In 1963, a 13-year-old Tanzanian student named Erasto Mpemba and his secondary school classmates were tasked with making ice cream. There was limited room in the freezers, and he found himself falling behind other students. His classmates were boiling milk for the treat, then letting the mixture cool before placing it in the freezer. To stay on track, Mpemba put his hot concoction straight into the freezer. Checking on the dessert some time later, he found it perfectly frozen, while his classmates’ remained liquid.

The idea of water freezing faster when it starts at a higher temperature was christened the Mpemba effect after he published the finding in 1969 with physicist Denis Osborne. …

Ice cream
Ice cream

… a decade ago, computational chemists simulated water molecules and observed the Mpemba effect despite the absence of the supposedly necessary mechanisms. Recently, researchers have also observed the effect in other liquids and magnetic alloys, which indicates that causes specific to water, like hydrogen bonds, cannot fully explain the effect. Further complicating the investigation of the Mpemba effect is that many water-based experiments involve a phase transition between liquid and ice, which is dependent on conditions like the container and environment; that makes measurements hard to obtain and extremely difficult to reproduce.

… Bechhoefer and his team used a simple and unambiguous definition to measure the inverse Mpemba effect: the time it takes a system that starts at one equilibrium temperature to reach another, higher temperature. By using a single colloidal particle, they avoided the unnecessary complications of phase transitions in water and other systems.

In their experiment, optical tweezers create a force and thus a potential in which the particle moves. The potential is a tilted double well, … . The particle can settle into two different local minima, the left or the right valley. The potential qualitatively mimics the states of supercooled water: One local minimum has a slightly higher free energy, representing liquid (left), and the other, representing solid ice (right), has a lower free energy because that state is favored.

… To get the same quality of results observed for the forward Mpemba effect, the team had to perform five times the number of trials—5000 rather than 1000—and they believe they know why. In the forward effect, particles fall quickly into one of the two potential wells. The fraction in the left and the fraction in the right, in general, differ from the fractions that should probabilistically be in each well in equilibrium, after the system has settled to its final temperature. That difference leads to a second, slower step, in which particles hop the barrier into the other well until the correct fractions are attained. If the barrier is tall, the process can be slow and create a sharp separation in time between the initial drop into the well and the hopping. When the Mpemba effect is working at its strongest, the hopping is minimal and the relaxation time to the final equilibrium temperature is short.