Egyptian Jews trading with tribes in the northern part of Mali since biblical times. In the eighth century CE. Rhadanites (multi-lingual Jewish traders) settled in Timbuktu as a base from which to solidify their trade routes through the desert. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Jews fleeing Spanish persecution joined them. Members of the Kehath (Ka'ti) family founded three villages near Timbuktu -- Kirshamba, Haybomo, and Kongougara. In 1492, King Askia Muhammed threatened execution to Jews who did not convert to Islam. Some Jews fled, some converted, some remained in Mali with centuries of persecution and random massacre. By the 20th century, no practicing Jews remained in Mali. In the 1990s Malian Jewry began a revival. Ismael Diadie Haidara, a historian from Timbuktu, has explored Mali's Jewish past. In 1993 Haidara established Zakhor (the Timbuktu Association for Friendship with the Jewish World) as an informal association of Malian descendants of Jews to teach their children about their Jewish heritage, learn Hebrew and learn their histories. A community of 1000 "Jews" have recently revealed their identity. The Renewal of Jewish Identity in Timbuktu by Karen Primack. For information, contact Ismael Haidara, who divides his time between Timbuktu and Granada, Spain: B. P. 66, Tombouctou, Mali, West Africa, tel. (223) 92-11-78 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [August 2009]


Last Updated on Sunday, 23 August 2009 01:23