Revisiting human revolution, a journey back to Timbuktu

An overview of the Timbuktu city in Mali, the gate to knowledge and innovation in the ancient days. Africans need to get back to this academic and innovative enthusiasm. PHOTO/MOMO Africa.
An overview of the Timbuktu city in Mali, the gate to knowledge and innovation in the ancient days. Africans need to get back to this academic and innovative enthusiasm. PHOTO/MOMO Africa.
  • There is a need to reinvent the spirit of Timbuktu’s educational orientation to revive the legacy of its scholars and promote education and research in the region. 
  • Timbuktu is an ancient city located in Mali, West Africa.
  • Anyone can join this platform.

Timbuktu is an ancient city located in Mali, West Africa, founded in the 5th century and was once a thriving center of trade, scholarship, and learning during the 14th to 16th centuries. 

It was known as the “City of 333 Saints” due to the many Islamic scholars and leaders who lived and taught there. 

In history

During this time, Timbuktu was a hub of diverse cultures, traditions, and religions, which fostered a spirit of tolerance and coexistence. 

It became a center for Islamic scholarship, attracting scholars from across Africa and beyond. 

The scholars in Timbuktu wrote and researched in various fields, such as astronomy, mathematics, medicine, law, and theology, which helped to contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge in the region.

“For this to be possible, there are efforts going under what we termed the Back to Timbuktu Education Servies Initiative. 

Back to Timbuktu Global Forum logo design. PHOTO/Courtesy.

It aims at establishing an African-centered university under the name Back to Timbuktu International University (BTT). Our aim is to start with East African countries plus the West African countries,” confirmed Yusuf Kisekwa, Co-Lead Promoter, Back to Timbuktu Initiative. 

Timbuktu’s educational orientation was based on a system of Quranic schools known as madrasas that taught Quranic studies, Islamic theology, and jurisprudence. 

The scholars in Timbuktu were highly respected and sought after, and their reputation attracted students from all over Africa and the Middle East.

However, by the 17th century, the city began to decline due to several factors, such as political instability, conflicts, and changes in trade routes. 

The city’s decline led to a decrease in its educational orientation, and it lost its status as a center for learning.

Today, Timbuktu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of Africa’s rich cultural heritage. 

Reviving Timbuktu spirit

There is a need to reinvent the spirit of Timbuktu’s educational orientation to revive the legacy of its scholars and promote education and research in the region. 

“Back to Timbuktu Global Forum seeks to help humans attain their full potential and build sane and free communities from modern enslavement.

This is by proposing ways to free our education systems from manipulative forces, establish the ancient Timbuktu-like education systems that support true science, and develop critical thinking that aligns with the Laws of Ma’at,” Martin Mugisha, Founder, Back To Timbuktu Global Forum, explains.

He also adds that this is achievable through encouraging practical wisdom, self-sufficiency and scientific freedom and fighting against indoctrinating ideologies, misinformation, and any form of intellectual bankruptcy and dependence.

Timbuktu is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. PHOTO/UNESCO.
Timbuktu is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. PHOTO/UNESCO.

This can be done by investing in education and research infrastructure, promoting academic freedom and tolerance, and encouraging international collaboration and knowledge exchange. 

By doing so, the spirit of Timbuktu’s educational orientation can be revived, and the city can once again become a hub of knowledge and scholarship. 

Back to Timbuktu objectives

Evidently, based on the historical orientation of the Timbuktu city, Back to Timbuktu Global initiative is a focus of great intervention. This will intervene in line with the following major sectors of concern:

  • Education Systems.

 ThisDecolonizing them specifically in Africa.

  • Applied Research.

 Supporting true science through applied research in science, technology, education, and agriculture, among others).

  • Intellectual independence.

This is different from academic independence. We can attain it through decolonizing both knowledge and sources of knowledge, promoting free speech through various intellectual discussions, and establishing good academic practices that foster critical thinking and allow criticism.

The forum also fights against academic practices that promote the monopolization of knowledge and hinder people from accessing true knowledge. 

“Scholars were free to debate, and there was no haste in innovation for the matter of just but innovations and discoveries. They had to align with human values.

Therefore, the name Back to Timbuktu refers to the need to go back and tap from the science of our ancestors across Africa and make the continent the center of knowledge, science, practice-led and practice-based research, using African methodology and axiology,” insists Mugisha.

  • Create Free Communities from ideological (mental) enslavement.

This is through information warfare: information analysis, media, and all sources of information to detect and warn against enslaving, indoctrinating, and misleading ideologies.

  • Create self-sufficient communities, financially and in terms of food security.

Offer financial literacy, propose financial models that work, promote organic farming, safe food production and processing, housing, water, etc.

  • Linguistic independence.

This would be achieved by creating an African School of Linguistics and Literature, focusing on the African perspective on language. This will encompass fields that are very vital to our struggle:

Comparative Historical Linguistics, Lexicology, Applied Sociolinguistics, Translation Studies, Communication Studies, Language Pedagogy, Language Planning and Language Policy, Discourse Analysis, Geolinguistics, and Forensic Linguistics, among others.

“Another initiative was also born out of this endeavor of establishing linguistic independence—The African School of Linguistics (ASL: AFURALang),” says Mugisha.

Martin Mugisha, Founder, Back to Timbuktu Global Initiative. Photo/Courtesy.

He adds that it was his approach to look at language not as a mere tool for communication but as a weapon that can lead to positive societal change. 

“Linguistic studies and expertise possessed by the African linguists should be channeled and oriented towards cultural, scientific, and intellectual liberation of Africa. Linguistic knowledge should be used to gain a deeper understanding of African thought, which our ancestors readily codified in African languages,” Mugisha clarifies.

The suggestion is that linguistic studies should go beyond language teaching and language learning only, and handle serious and critical societal issues because linguists and literature people have the expertise to do that. So they should not limit it.

  •  African school of thought.

It deals with the African humanities. 

“We have done so much. I also credit Yusufu Kisekwa who has been pushing this too. That’s how we ended up creating the Back to Timbuktu Education Services Initiative,” confirmed Mugisha. 


According to Mugisha, anyone can join this platform; such a person must be ready to work within the guiding core values of Back to Timbuktu: Ubuntu and the principles of Balance, Harmony, Reciprocity, Justice and Truth.

No racial or nationality discrimination. They must also abide by the natural way that regulates gender.

 Yusuf Kisekwa, Co-Lead promoter, Back to Timbuktu Global Initiative. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Yusuf Kisekwa, Co-Lead promoter, Back to Timbuktu Global Initiative. PHOTO/Courtesy.

“Because it’s in its initial phase, everyone willing and like-minded is allowed to join. We have attracted an expansive membership globally and still expect to see more people come in. 

Therefore, the concept needs people who are willing to come in and bring their contribution,” Mugisha calls.

Partnerships, affiliations

 Anyone can also bring intellectual, financial, and technical support. 

“We have interacted with the East African Polytechnic College-Kyambogo (Centre for Indigenous Studies, Kyambogo University), Tembo Africa Initiative, Tembo World Initiative, and Ablode Associates.

More discussions are scheduled in the pursuit of partnerships and affiliations,” Mugisha explains.


  • Financial challenges. 

To Africans and the African diaspora, we still lack trust and they are not always willing to support us financially. 

  • Lack of popularity.

Most people have the tendency to support things owned or initiated by people linked to high profiles. They are yet to get there as a forum.

  • Getting in touch with key individuals.

Meeting political authorities interested in African initiatives takes a lot of work. Getting in touch with African businesspeople or organizations that can support them is also a challenge.

  • Travel policies and requirements.

These pose a challenge when it comes to taking teams and implementing projects in various lands. 

Any common platform?

They have a WhatsApp forum, Back to Timbuktu Global Forum, which serves as an educational and informational tool.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Reminiscing Thogoto, Kenya’s cradle of education

Members learn new things and try to apply what they judge of interest to them.

Let us get back to Timbuktu and leverage our globe. 

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Mr. Otieno is a Literature enthusiast, an English/Literature teacher, a writer, poet, playwright, and novelist. He is the President of the Bleeding Ink Global Writers Society, a detail-oriented columnist, and a literary critic. His contact:


  1. This is a commendable work you have done. Going back to our ancestral wisdom in order to decolonize our education systems is vital. Thank you for featuring BACK TO TIMBUKTU GLOBAL FORUM


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