From Here to Timbuktu is a children’s edutainment short film that follows the adventures of four bright and curious 11-year-olds from the four corners of the continent (Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt) as they travel back in time to 16th century Timbuktu, and find themselves smack in the middle of the Saadian (Moroccan) Invasion of 1593.

On this day, the Saadian army – under the leadership of Pasha Mahmud ibn Zarqun – ransacked the city of Timbuktu, plundered the city’s wealth, burned the libraries, put to death many scholars who resisted them, and deported many to Fes and Marrakech – including the eminent scholar of Timbuktu, Ahmed Baba es Sudane (“Ahmed Baba, the black”).

In From Here to Timbuktu, our young time travelers from the 21st Century meet Professor Ahmed Baba and help him to save his books from destruction by the Saadians. The children figure out their journey and purpose, and understand the value of knowledge and history. Throughout their journey, they are guided by a mysterious old “teacher” who provides much-needed factual and historical background.

This short film was born out of the observation that within the current market for children television in Africa, issues such as learning how to read and count or simple health topics (washing one’s hands, etc.) are relatively well covered by the countries’ basic school curricula and by existing shows on television. But it is obvious that one major topic was being largely ignored across the board: History – and more specifically, Ancient African History.

Ancient African History is not being taught in primary and secondary schools across the continent (and around the world!) as school curricula in Africa remain based on the English or French educational systems, and most textbooks focus on the colonial and post-colonial period. Literature on pre-colonial Africa, especially books or textbooks written for children, is pretty scarce, and most of it is produced by African-American authors.

We believe that this lack of widespread, detailed knowledge among children (and adults) about the continent’s ancient past is an important social and political issue, as it can lead to misrepresentations about one’s culture, self-worth, or place in the world. “Preserving Ancient African History” became the theme of our short film, which is targeting the 7-13 age group.

From Here to Timbuktu is available online for rent or purchase.



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