Africa Direct

Desert Libraries: A scribe in Mali

Boubacar Najim is one of Mali’s few remaining copyists, determined to preserve Timbuktu’s famous manuscripts.

Timbuktu is renowned for its ancient texts, which date back to when the Malian city was a vital scholastic centre over 500 years ago.

Boubacar Saddeck Najim is one of the few remaining copyists who painstakingly replicates these precious manuscripts for posterity. Some 300,000 documents are still held by a few old families in private collections.

Beïrey-Hou: Desert Libraries, by filmmaker Andrey S Diarra, delves into Najim’s world of crumbling pages, magnificent scripts, inaccessible collections, and some reluctant lenders.

Andrey S Diarra is a Malian producer and director. Since his first feature documentary Hamou-Béya (Sand Fishers) in 2012 won several international awards, he has produced more than 10 feature documentaries with African filmmakers, as well as approximately 50 films with various international NGOs in West Africa through his company DS Productions.