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Exhibition Heritage Heroes at the 39th Session in Bonn


Heritage Heroes - Mali

Abdel Kader Haïdara

Abdel Kader Haïdara in Bamako, Mali
Photography: Albrecht Fuchs


Abdoulaye Boncana & Aldiouma Yattara

Abdoulaye Boncana & Aldiouma Yattara in the Parc National du Mali, Bamako (Mali).
Photography: Albrecht Fuchs

Mali, Timbuktu
(Cultural World Heritage *1988; World Heritage in Danger 2012 - Present)

Mali, Tomb of Askia
(Cultural World Heritage *2004; World Heritage in Danger: 2012 - Present)

Le patrimoine est un lieu de transmission des connaissances, c’est donc une école mais pas au sens classique du terme.
"Heritage is a place for imparting knowledge; it is thus a school but not in the classic sense of the word." (Aldiouma Yattara)

Aldiouma Yattara, Director of the Sahel Museum of Gao, Abdoulaye Boncana, President of the Alanga Cultural Association, and Dr Abdel Kader Haïdara, Director and founder of the Mamma Haïdara Memorial Library, demonstrated their extraordinary commitment in 2012 when Gao and Timbuktu were subjected to severe attacks by armed extremists who also aimed to destroy cultural sites.

Haïdara started an unprecedented rescue operation to protect the Timbuktu Library with its more than 500-year-old collection of important West African literary history. The documents were hidden in metal boxes and smuggled to Bamako with the help of several hundred brave supporters from within and outside the country.

Yattara mobilised the local population of Gao to protect the Tomb of Askia. In a major rescue operation, he also protected the artworks of the Sahel Museum from looting and destruction.

Boncana founded the “Young Patriots of Gao” movement to give young people a voice in the battle against suppression and for the defence of their cultural heritage.

Through the strategic coordination of the local communities and international supporters, all of them were able to salvage important elements of West Africa’s culture.