Due to my regularly scheduled Monday night appointment, I missed a couple of interesting Africanist events in the DC university community tonight.
- SAIS apparently hosted a Kenyan election watching party. I remember staying up very late with much excitement in west Africa to watch Barack Obama be announced the winner of the 2008 US presidential election (when I was in Peace Corps), so certainly great to see the enthusiasm here (hopefully it was not trepidation).
- The Capital Archaeological Institute, hosted an event on “Rebuilding Timbuktu’s Legacy” at GWU. The speaker, Dr. Douglas Park, is a lecturer of Anthropology at Rice and Director of the Saharan Archaeological association.
As my Monday night appointment is on the GWU campus, I passed by this event on my way out and managed to catch perhaps the last three sentences of the A on the final Q&A. On a more positive note, they did serve free food, of which quite a bit remained when I arrived, so much so that I felt no reluctance to help myself to a good serving.
The abstract of the talk that was circulated by the Institute in advance read:
“This is a story of tragedy and conflict where one of Africa’s greatest and oldest sites faced the complete annihilation of its cultural history. This is also a story of hope and courage, where government officials and private citizens placed their lives on the line in their successful attempt at rescuing one of the largest collections of ancient manuscripts in the world. This is the story of Timbuktu.
Archaeologist Dr. Douglas Park will go deep into the background of Timbuktu’s capture and takeover by al-Qaeda and its subsequent liberation by Malian and French troops. Based upon his personal experience from 13 months of field research at Timbuktu, he will explore why ancient monuments and priceless manuscripts were targeted and destroyed, how many were saved, and what must be done to begin rebuilding the city’s cultural legacy.”
It certainly sounds as if it had the makings of a great talk. I welcome comments below on either of these events or anything else that went on today on the Africa in DC theme.