Are We Losing Timbuktu?

Nestled deep withing the arid sands of Mali, the city of Timbuktu is synonymous with being the end of the Earth. At the edge of the Sahara Desert and far off the well-trodden tourist track, Timbutku can, in its mystical and awe-inspiring unknown, be likened to being the Potala Palace of Africa. Seemingly forbidden, it’s nevertheless accessible to those who really try.

According to this recent release by BBC, however, the city of Timbuktu may presently be in danger. Entrenched deep within the Saharan interior, Timbuktu is falling prey to the Islamic uprisings and politically ambiguous negotiations which have gripped swaths of African citizens and have rendered the legendary city tenuous at best.

As you might imagine, this comes as a great concern to adventurous global travelers. In addition to being a classic outpost, Timbuktu is also home to large quantities of African literature, artwork, and cultural sites which may now go unrecognized and could potentially be destroyed. According to the BBC, Al-Qaeda-linked fighters last year already destroyed the tomb of a local Muslim saint, and UNESCO and the UN fear that other sites such as the pyramid shaped Tomb of Askia may be the next victims in the cross hairs of violence.

As fractitious fighting grips the northern reaches of the Saharan outpost, it remains to be seen what exactly will happen to Mali’s legendary trading town in the desert.

[Photo credit: emilio labrador on Flickr]