They are often quite ‘pretty’, like this one (which I believe I have shown once before), from the early eighteenth century, containing incantations to use for getting on in one’s professional life.
Djenne is famous for its ‘maraboutage’. People come from far and wide to avail themselves of this ancient ‘wisdom’. Although this sort of thing exists in Islam elsewhere, in Djenne it seems to be mixed in with the ancient knowledge of West Africa, that which is called the ‘nyama’, the vital force.
Before starting the pilot project, I was wondering if there were going to be any differences between the Timbuktu manuscripts and those of Djenne, and now we have found that this is the difference : so this is perhaps what we ought to be presenting ?
In the absence of any other unifying idea, why not suggest that we digitize the manuscripts we have found on the subject of magic ? This surely would be of interest to anthropologists and religious historians etc ?
This lead to some lighthearted banter on what a great subject it would be for a B-movie in the style of ‘the curse of the mummy’ : lone white woman, only toubab for hundreds of miles, gets involved with magic manuscripts in ancient African town and then disappears.... Handsome Indiana Jones type stranger arrives to look for her. ( I said I would insist that it was Daniel Day Lewis) using the manuscripts as clues....