Start here: http://www.pbs.org/wonders/fr_e5.htm
Explore this extraordinarily detailed online book about the history and culture behind the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara, in English and in French.
In his online essay, Tahir Shah discusses the cultural effects the Islamic conquerors of the past had on the remote but wealthy city of Timbuktu.
Photos, geographical information, and teaching resources can be found at this colorful site on Mali and its archaeological wonders.
Other useful websites:
TIMBUKTU EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (http://www.timbuktufoundation.org/)
ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPTS FROM MALI (http://international.loc.gov/intldl/malihtml/islam.html)