The Timbuktu manuscripts are a symbolic representation of the impact of the early schools and universities (XII-XVIth century) that existed in West Africa (Timbuktu-Gao-Djenné-Kano). However, the manuscripts that remain in Timbuktu are only part of the intellectual heritage of the region because other manuscripts can be found throughout West Africa.
Today, this entire African intellectual legacy is on the verge of being lost. The brittle condition of the manuscripts i.e. pages disintegrate easily like ashes. The termites, insects, weather, piracy of the manuscripts, and the selling of these treasures to tourists for food money pose a serious threat to the future of the manuscripts of Timbuktu.
Anyone who appreciates these legacies- Islamic, intellectual, academic and spiritual- would be desperate to save the endangered manuscripts of Timbuktu. There are 700,000 manuscripts in Timbuktu and surroundings on the verge of being lost if the appropriate action is not taken. These manuscripts represent a turning point in the history of Africa and its people. The translation and publication will restore self-respect, pride, honor and dignity to the people of Africa and those descended from Africa; it will also obliterate stereotypical images of primitive savages as true representation of Africa and its civilization.
Before the European Renaissance, Timbuktu flourished as the greatest academic and commercial center in Africa. Great empires such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were proofs of the talents, creativity and ingenuity of the people. The University of Timbuktu produced both Black African scholars and leaders of the highest rank, character and nobility.
The manuscripts cover diverse subjects: mathematics, chemistry, physics, optics, astronomy, medicine, history, geography, Islamic sciences and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), government legislation and treaties, jurisprudence and much much more.