South Africa and Mali opened a high-tech library in the Malian desert town of Timbuktu on Jan. 24, boosting efforts to preserve thousands of ancient manuscripts documenting Africa's academic past. The launch is part of a South African plan to help Mali to protect up to 150,000 manuscripts, some of which date from the 1200s and document subjects ranging from science and the arts to social and business trends of the day. South Africa has also been training Malian conservators to protect the texts, which some say will force the West to accept Africa has an intellectual history as old as its own. Others draw comparisons with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Reuters)

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