African Ajami Library (AAL)

Training 8

The collections team photographing a manuscript in Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Although written records are rarely regarded as part of sub-Saharan Africa’s intellectual heritage, important bodies of Ajami literature have existed in Oromo, Somali, Tigrigna, Kiswahili, Amharic, and Malagasy in East Africa, and Bamanakan, Mandinka, Kanuri, Yoruba, Berber, Hausa, Wolof, and Fulfulde in West Africa for centuries. In South Africa, Muslim Malay slaves produced the first written record of Afrikaans in Ajami. Ajami traditions of Africa are centuries-old and are quite varied, consisting of satirical, polemical and protest poetry, as well as biographies, eulogies, genealogies, talismanic resources, therapeutic medical manuals, family journals, business transactions, historical records, speeches, texts on administrative and diplomatic matters (correspondence between Sultans and provincial rulers), Islamic jurisprudence, behavioral codes, grammar, and even visual arts. The primary goal of the African Ajami Library is to ensure that these materials are no longer treated as insignificant vestiges, but rather as major sources of local African knowledge.

Go directly to the African Ajami Library website at OpenBU

The African Ajami Library Project is the result of many collaborations and much generosity.

Fieldwork Team: Fallou Ngom (PI), Cheikh Tidiane Fall (Co-applicant), Ablaye Diakite (Researcher), Birane Gassama (Researcher)
Technical Team: Roger Brisson, Vika Zafrin, Jack Ammerman, Peter Quella and Lara Ayad.

Acknowledgement: This collection of Wolofal (Wolof Ajami) materials is copied as part of the EAP 334 Project (Digital Preservation of Wolof Ajami manuscripts of Senegal) led by Dr. Fallou Ngom in collaboration with the West African Research Association/West African Research Center and Boston University Library. The project is funded by the British Library/Arcadia Endangered Archives.

Access Condition and Copyright: The materials are subject to copyright. Access is for research and educational purposes only.

Materials are not to be reproduced without written permission.

Citation: Materials in this web edition may be cited as: Ngom, Fallou. 2011. African Ajami Library: EAP 334. Digital Preservation of Wolof Ajami Manuscripts of Senegal. Boston: Boston University Library:

For Inquires: Please, contact Professor Fallou Ngom (

Download a copy of From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme (Maja Kominko, ed., Feb 2015)