Monday, May 10, 2010

Destination: Mali (Timbuktu)

History of Town / Population / People Groups 
   Historians tell us that Timbuktu had a great place of importance in the course of West African history; its renown also influenced Europe and Asia. The city was the center of power for several West African empires that flourished during the middle ages of European history, including the Songhai Empire in the 14 and 1500’s. Legend has it that was founded in 1100 AD by the Tuareg people along a channel of water inhabited by hippos, a meeting place of Tuareg camels and Songhai canoes. Eventually it became a great city of commerce and Islamic studies. It is now a unique, venerated, Muslim city, home to 30,000-50,000 Arabic, Tuareg and Songhai people. Circling the town is a “band of misery” giving home to thousands of poor and needy. It is a stronghold of Muslim faith, containing ancient mosques, a world renowned Islamic university, and a library that houses ancient manuscripts.

Church Status 
   The first evangelical missionaries arrived in Timbuktu in the 1920; they left in the 1950’s saying that even the water in Timbuktu was not wet. In the 1950’s EBM arrived and established one church in 1980 that ministers mainly to the Tuareg people; most church members are related to the pastor. It is inter-related with a non-governmental agency. The pastor’s brother-in-law has also established an Assembly of God church in town. These churches have struggled against persecution for many years; membership remains very small. In the last five years many missionaries from different agencies have come to minister to those living in Timbuktu, however hearts seemingly remain unresponsive and the work has appeared to make little progress.

Housing for Guests / Estimated Costs 
   There are several small hotels in Timbuktu. The tourist season is during the cooler months of November - February, and during this time, the hotels are fully booked in advance.

l'Hotel La Colombe (The Dove Hotel) 

Rooms: 2 twin beds per room at 23,000 / night / room
Breakfast: 2,000 CFA
Lunch and Supper: 4,000 CFA

Contact information:
Phone: (223) 292 14 35
B. P. 05
Tombouctou, Mali
West Africa

Specifics Unique to Your Stay 
   Flights to Timbuktu are through Bamako, Mali for larger groups or Niamey, Niger for groups no larger than three. The airport tax in Timbuktu is paid separately from the price of the ticket, and is usually around 20,000 CFA.

   There are very few taxis in town, so plan on doing a lot of walking in deep sand. A team can rent a 4x4 vehicle.

   Timbuktu is situated in the middle of the Sahara Desert; you will experience very hot, dry days and cool nights. November to February you will need a light coat at night and in the early morning.

   Currency exchanges are possible with a valid passport at a local bank. It is also possible to make currency exchanges in the Baptist Mission Office in Bamako or Niamey when arranged in advance.

   The IMB Songhai Team is currently working in partnership with Brazilian Evangelicals to reach the Songhai people in the Timbuktu area. Current ministries include: soccer teams, women and youth Bible studies, women’s sewing classes, prayer walking, media distribution, and evangelism.

Timbuktu Contact Information

Mailing Address:
B. P. 166
Tombouctou, Mali
West Africa

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