My name is Moussa (moo-sah). Welcome to Timbuktu, my hometown in the country of Mali (mah-lee). More than 700 years ago, Timbuktu was right on the main trade route through the Sahara Desert. Caravans of camels carried salt, gold, and ivory right past the place I live. These days, we have few visitors except for tourists wanting to explore Timbuktu’s exciting and mysterious past.
Like most farming families, ours depends on the crops we grow and the animals we raise for survival. Most days we eat a kind of porridge made from millet, a grain we grow in our own fields. Our goats give us both cheese and milk. I help take care of our herd and find them good places to graze. Like many children in Mali, my sisters and I do not attend school. Instead, I spend most of my time trying to sell silver jewelry to people entering or leaving the mosque (mahsk), our place of worship.
Father is teaching me how to write in a beautiful way like the ancient Muslim scribes did. Using calligraphy, they copied the Koran, our holy book, by hand when Timbuktu was a center for scholars of Islam. My family has valuable, ancient books and letters written in this style. Passed down from my ancestors, they tell the history of Mali. We keep them carefully preserved inside an old trunk. If you follow me up the stone staircase to our rooftop terrace, I will ask Father to open the trunk. He will proudly spread out the leather-bound books. Don’t touch the brittle pages! Just look carefully at the fading calligraphy and painted pictures. Aren’t they beautiful?
Before the invention of the printing press, books, including the Bible, were copied by hand. Find some colored markers with fine points and a piece of paper. Using the markers, copy your favorite Bible verse onto the paper, just like ancient writers did. Be careful about your spelling and don’t leave out any words. Now use your markers to decorate around the verse in a beautiful way.
Note: For families with very young children, the parent can write the verse and the child can trace over the words in marker or decorate around the verse.
- Read Hebrews 1:1-2. Most Tuareg families have never had the opportunity to hear about God’s son, Jesus. Like Moussa’s family, they believe that the Koran reveals the truth about God and how people can please Him. Pray that God would send believers to Mali to share of the truth about Jesus with the Tuareg people.
- God’s true word, the Bible, is not yet translated into Tamasheq. Many Tuareg cannot read. Pray that Tuareg families will hear audio recordings of Bible stories in their own language.