“Tragedy is due to divergence and because of lack of tolerance … Glory to he who creates greatness from difference and makes peace and reconciliation,” —Timbuktu manuscript entry by El Hadj Oumar Tall (1797)
Mali –- a little-known land-locked impoverished West African nation, roughly the size of South Africa and nearly twice the size of the State of Texas --- with a climate ranging from tropical in the south to arid desert in the north --- has for centuries been an incubator for exceptional education, religious tolerance, cooperation, moderation and pluralism, and has been an important American ally against the regional Al Qaeda franchise.
Once Africa’s most stable democracy, Mali has in recent times faced (in rapid sequence) an insurgency, a coup d'état, a war among the insurgents, and French military intervention, resulting in sudden and ongoing global media attention. Most remarkable is Mali’s centuries-long ability to inspire each generation of scholars, known as Ambassadors of Peace, to faithfully pass their knowledge on to the next generation.
This physically-inhospitable land is the astonishing source of nearly one million Ancient Manuscripts, written in the 12th through 16th Centuries, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Influenced by traditional West African thought, these Manuscripts span diverse topics, including: architecture, astronomy, chemistry, healing, history, jurisprudence, legislation, mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy, religion, women’s rights, children’s rights, animal rights, and most important, the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness. Many of these Ancient Manuscripts remain today, though in precarious condition, and provide a priceless written record of African history that is little known anywhere.
Timbuktu's "Golden Age" is echoed in its three great 14th- and 15th-century mud-and-timber mosques: Djingareyber, Sankore, and Sidi Yahia, which served as places of worship, education, and housing for the Ambassadors of Peace and other scholars.
The Ancient Manuscripts shed light on Mali’s previously-unknown educational and cultural history, and provide the foundation for teachings that for centuries have been passed down to the next generation by the scholarly Ambassadors of Peace.
SO . . . HOW can we most effectively spread knowledge of these Ancient Manuscripts, and in particular, the indefatigable FOCUS of the Ambassadors of Peace over successive generations, and their teachings about the PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT through DIALOGUE !
Survival of our planet may depend upon it.
And that was the inspiration for “333” – our documentary film about Mali, the focus of their Ambassadors of Peace on teaching lessons from the Ancient Manuscripts, and the impact of those Ancient Manuscripts today on Mali, Islam, and the world.
Mali’s Fascinating History and its Manuscripts Inspire Focus
Now a mere shadow of its former glory, Mali’s legendary City of Timbuktu --- the "City of 333 Saints" --- once lay at the crossroads of world trade, from east to west, and north to south, rendering Mali one of the world’s wealthiest nations as well as the learning center for all of Islam, with twenty-five thousand students per annum, from many nations, attending the University of Sankore. But as the camel caravans of the Golden Age were gradually replaced by ocean vessels, Timbuktu fell into economic decline.
Regardless, for nearly one thousand years, “Ambassadors of Peace” have met daily before sunrise in their “Circle of Knowledge,” to impart wisdom from the Manuscripts to their students.
In order to become an Ambassador of Peace, the candidate must, by the age of 5, commit to study with the same teacher for 35 years. By the age of 10, he/she must have memorized the Koran, and by the age of 40, must have mastered jurisprudence. Then, each prospective Ambassador of Peace must go out into the streets to live as a beggar, in order to master humility.
That pattern of tenacious focus, followed for centuries by each aspiring Ambassador of Peace, will inspire youngsters everywhere. And focus is the secret of success, whatever the topic.
Once focus has been mastered, success will follow.
The documentary film “333” shows Ambassadors of Peace, young and old, amidst their ongoing studies. Surrounded by the Sahara desert and 110F degree temperatures --- studying on scorching sands under the Sahara sun or atop a shuffling camel --- nothing impedes their focus on learning the contents of the Ancient Manuscripts.
The five-minute Trailer of “333” can be viewed via the Website where you are now reading this, namely:
Go to the heading “Who We Are” and then click on the photo of an Ancient Manuscript to the right of the first paragraph.
Let’s work together to SAVE THE WORLD !
Our FOCUS is now on YOU !