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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 founded and led by Dr. Fallou Ngom (Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University). AAL is envisioned as a continental open access public repository of aggregated Ajami texts from Muslim Africa. The first step in building AAL took place in the summer of 2011. Professor 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.

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    Goni, Abubakar Umar
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    Ibn Fodio, As-Shaykh Usman; Bello, Sultan Muhammad; Ibn Fodio, Abdullahi
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    Abubakar, Mahir; al-Akhdary, Abd-al-Rahman
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    Tijjani Adib, Muhammad Ahmed; Al-Nawawi
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    Umaru, Hamidu
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    Ahmadu, Shehu; Tijani, Ahmad Adib
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    This manuscript is a complete originally bound copy of the Fulfulde Ajami version of the tafsir (translational meaning of the Qur’an)—Juz’u Amma, which is the last part of the complete Qur’an. This sub-unit is called "The ...
  • Al-Qasa’id Al-Ajamiyyah (Ajami poems) 

    bn Fodio, Shehu Usman; bn Fodio, Shehu Abdullahi; Bello, Sultan Muhammad (1970)
    This manuscript is a collection of poems written by the triumvirate: Shehu Usman bn Fodio, Shehu Abdullahi bn Fodio (his brother), and Sultan Muhammad Bello (Shuhu bn Fodio’s son & Shehu Abdullahi’s nephew). The majority ...

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