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

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