Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare by Email
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2144/1896

AAL is a collaborative initiative between Boston University and the West African Research Center (WARC) in part funded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme. The AAL Project is led by Dr. Fallou Ngom (Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University). AAL is envisioned as a digital “Library of Alexandria” of Islamized Africa, a continental open access public repository of aggregated Ajami materials. The first step in building AAL took place the summer of 2011. Dr. Ngom and Mr. Roger Brisson, Head of Metadata Services of Boston University traveled to Senegal to lead a workshop at WARC focused on digitization techniques of endangered Wolof Ajami manuscripts. Five people were trained in the workshop, including Mr. Ablaye Diakite (AAL-Team Member), Mr. Birane Gassama (AAL-Team member), Mr. Abdoulaye Niang (WARC Technical Director), Mr. Aliou Badara Sarr (WARC Assistant Librarian), and Mr. Ali Diop (an independent scholar).

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. The neglect is due to a number of factors, including the lack of an Ajami public depository, the limited number of individuals with the linguistic skills and cultural background required to analyze Ajami documents, and a lack of recognition of the cultural value of Ajami texts, as many Europeans and Arab scholars with the linguistic competence to study these materials have often deemed them of little scholarly interest. Most assume that sources of useful knowledge on Africa are either oral or written in European languages. Yet, 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 AAL is to ensure that these materials are no longer treated as insignificant vestiges, but rather as major sources of local African knowledge, without which a holistic and in-depth understanding of Islamized Africa will remain elusive.

Sub-communities within this community

Collections in this community

Recently Added

  • Mandinkakaŋ Leetaroolu: Letters in Mandinka 

    Unknown author
    The collection contains short notes and letters written by family members in Mandinka Ajami. The first letter is sent from Guinea-Bissau by Sire Mbaa Daffe, who is the aunt of the owner, to greet him and to request that ...
  • Kombo Niŋ Kaabu Tariikoo: Kombo and Kaabu History 

    Diabang, Nouha
    The manuscript provides the origin of the different Mandinka family names and the migrations of the Mandinka people of Kaabu in Guinea-Bissau to southwestern Gambia, which resulted in the Kombo Mandinka communities. The ...
  • Dāliyyat al-Yūsī 

    ibn Mas‘ūd al-Yūsī, Abū Alī al-Ḥasan
    The Arabic manuscript is a copy of a poem dealing with the life of Prophet Muḥammad and Sufism. It includes extensive glosses in Arabic and Soninke Ajami. It is a copy of an Arabic poem by the 17th-century Moroccan Sufi ...
  • Araabukaŋ Kitaabu Fula: Two Arabic Manuscripts 

    bin Abū Bakr, Aḥmad
    Consists of two separate manuscripts, including the popular Arabic devotional poem called Marmūz al-Tantarānī authored by Aḥmad al-Tantarānī. The themes discussed in the documents include life, death, and the afterlife. ...
  • Diinoo Koyindiraŋo: Clarifiying Religious Precepts 

    Unknown author
    The manuscript is a photocopy from the original written in Arabic. It is a manual for understanding Islam. It deals with the history of the faith before, during, and after the life of Prophet Muḥammad. It praises God and ...
  • Images of Ansou Daffe and the community of Kandialang (Ziguinchor) 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-05-07)
    Images of manuscript owner Ansou Daffe and the community of Kandialang, Ziguinchor, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in May 2018.
  • Images of manuscript owner Imam Lamine Cisse in Ziguinchor 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-05-10)
    Images of manuscript owner Imam Lamine Cisse with Cheikh Ibrahima Yaffa in Grand Yoff, Ziguinchor, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in May 2018.
  • Images of Kelountang Thiam and the community of Kandialang (Ziguinchor) 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-05-09)
    Images of manuscript owner Kelountang Thiam and the community of Kandialang, Ziguinchor, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in May 2018.
  • Images of Lamine Diabang and the community of Dianna-Fogny (Ziguinchor) 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-04-26)
    Images of manuscript owner Lamine Diabang and the community of Dianna-Fogny, Ziguinchor, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in April 2018.
  • Images of Imam Moustapha Cisse and the community of Kandialang (Ziguinchor) 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-06-01)
    Images of manuscript owner Imam Moustapha Cisse and the community of Kandialang, Ziguinchor, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in July 2018.

View more