President Motlanthe to participate in handover ceremony of Timbuktu Archives and Library Building to the Government Mali

Pretoria – South African President Kgalema Motlanthe will on Friday 23 January 2009 travel to Timbuktu, Mali where he will participate in the hand over ceremony of the newly completed archives and library building to the government and the people of Mali on Saturday 24 January 2009.

President Motlanthe’s delegation will include former President Thabo Mbeki, the Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Ntombazana Botha.

In this regard President Motlanthe is participating in the project, which is a New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) flagship cultural project, within the context of South Africa’s commitment to African Renaissance.

The project to construct the archives and library building began after then President Thabo Mbeki visited Mali in November 2001 and was shown the ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu. It was upon seeing the condition of the manuscripts that the need to preserve the manuscripts arose.  The South African government then agreed to support the conservation of the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu and gave an undertaking to build a new library to ensure that those historical documents were properly housed and conserved.

South Africa has also trained a number of Malian conservators and heritage professionals for the past six years and also established a Trust Fund to raise funds from South Africans citizens, including the business sector and donors, towards the building of the library.

Timbuktu is also a World Heritage site and the manuscripts are inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register.  In 2006 South Africa hosted the annual World Heritage Committee meeting that resolved to establish an African World Heritage Fund to maintain African world heritage sites.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X 152

21 January 2009


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