There's a lovely little story in today's Sindie about Timbuktu looking to twin with one of three shortlisted British towns/cities: Hay on Wye, Glastonbury or York. There are parallels between all three settlements and the Malian city, in terms of being ancient spiritual sites and trade nodes in times long past. It would be interesting if the trend to twin African and Western cities developed. Who would twin with Ife, Benin or Kano and why? Instead of the near meaningless twinnings between Western cities (benefiting a few councillors, rotary club members and businesses at best) these associations could lead to genuine links, tourist opportunities, cultural exchanges and a different model of development. The idea of the Timbuktu music festival developing and becoming a Glastonbury for West Africa is interesting - especially if people travelling there also insist that they offset their travel footprints to pay for infrastructural development or anti-desertification projects.
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