HMML Fieldwork - Fr. Columba Travels to Mali, Renews Agreement

January 31, 2020
HMML Fieldwork - Fr. Columba Travels to Mali, Renews Agreement

In December, Fr. Columba traveled again to Mali to visiting HMML’s digitization sites in both Bamako and Timbuktu. While in Bamako, Fr. Columba renewed HMML’s partnership with Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara of SAVAMA-DCI for a seventh year of work. This project has digitized over 140,000 manuscripts, with more to come over the next year or two as it nears completion.

HMML handshake

Until the very last minute, it was uncertain whether the team would be able to go to Timbuktu, given the dependence on UN transport and security arrangements. Thanks to the intercession of the British Ambassador, Cat Evans, things finally fell into place a few hours before they were due at the airport. Fr. Columba traveled with Sophie Sarin, director of the project in Timbuktu; Maria Luisa Russo, HMML’s field director in Bamako; and Dmitry Bondarev of Hamburg University. The team visited the three libraries currently being digitized and decided to redeploy one of the studios to Djenné, home of the famed mud-brick mosque (a UNESCO World Heritage site). The Mali project, HMML’s largest ever, continues to produce both successes and surprises for all involved!

Take a peek at HMML’s work in Mali in this recent BBC video story, “The Monk Saving Timbuktu’s Treasures.”