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Community libraries receive over R300m

by Gabi Khumalo
on 03 Jun 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Community libraries countrywide have been allocated R338 million for the current financial year in an effort to promote a culture of reading.

Presenting his Budget Vote on Monday, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan announced that the national library will receive R65.3 million while national museums will receive R409.9 million.

The minister also allocated R1 million towards the building of a library in Timbuktu, Mali.

Mr Jordan explained that the donation follows the signing of a Bi-National Agreement between South Africa and Mali.

He said this stipulates commitment to fund-raising and providing assistance toward the construction of a new library and archive for the Ahmed Baba Institute.

Other aims are to assist in marketing the heritage value of the Timbuktu Manuscripts, especially their conservation.

"We are pleased to announce that a separate trust fund was set up to fund raise from private and other donors towards the realisation of this project.

"Significantly, the Timbuktu Manuscripts are the first New Partnership for Africa's Development [NEPAD] Cultural Project which requires the support of government departments, including Arts and Culture," Minister Jordan said.

Timbuktu is the historic city in Mali where ancient manuscripts dating back to the early 13th century were found.

After visiting Mali in 2001, President Thabo Mbeki pledged to assist with the restoration and conservation of the ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, which were in poor conditions.

An inter-governmental agreement between South Africa and Mali was signed in 2002 and the project to restore the Timbuktu manuscripts was officially launched in 2003.

The project has since been declared an official South African Presidential Project and has also been endorsed by the NEPAD as its first cultural project.

The agreement expresses the two countries' commitment to undertake a government-to-government project aimed at conserving the manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Centre and at rebuilding the library and archival infrastructure of the institute.

Speaking during the SA-Mali Timbuktu Project fundraising dinner, three years ago, President Mbeki said that African countries must contest the colonial denial of their history and initiate their own conversations and dialogues about their past.

"We need our own historians and our own scholars to interpret the history of our continent, and to undertake, with a degree of urgency, a process of reclamation and assertion," the President said at the time. - BuaNews


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