Wednesday, March 16, 2011

to Timbuktu and back

The illustrious city of Timbuktu, founded by Taureg nomads in the 1100's, is located at the edge of the Sahara desert and a few miles away from the Niger river, making it a prime location for trading. In the years following, the city flourished as salt trading, its main revenue, carried its weight in gold.  Through the city's wealth it also became a city of learning, with numerous universities and Qur'anic schools, thus acquiring national acclaim.

That acclaim turned worldwide in the mid 1300's when the ruler of Mali carried so much gold with him (180 tons worth) on his way to Mecca, that when he stopped in Egypt the Egyptian currency lost its value and put both Mali and Timbuktu on the map.

Centuries later, legends of Timbuktu drove European explorers to seek out the fabled city. The first recognized explorer to reach the city was British Captain, Alexander Gordon Laing, but was killed upon leaving.  Since then it became more than just a quest to find the city of gold, but to return home alive. Rene Caillie, a French explorer, was the first person to accomplish the feat through cunning maneuvers.  And now my name has also been added to the success list, as I too can say I have been to Timbuktu and back.

No comments: