The Program of African Studies at Northwestern University shared the sad news of John Hunwick‘s death this week. He may be best known for his discovery of 3,000 privately held manuscripts in Timbuktu in 1999.
Northwestern University Professor Emeritus John Owen Hunwick…discovered a treasure trove of historic Arab literature stored in trunks in Timbuktu, Mali, died April 1 at his home in Skokie. He was 78.
He first visited Timbuktu in the 1970s as part of a UNESCO delegation that established the Ahmad Baba Center. Hunwick remained engaged with Timbuktu’s manuscript libraries over the ensuing decades, cataloging portions of collections and publishing translations of important texts.
See the full obituary at the Northwestern University site for more, including details on his founding of the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa and his work debunking cultural stereotypes, revealing that Timbuktu was once a haven for high literacy in Arabic, which he called “the Latin of Africa.”