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The collection contains over 14 manuscripts of different lengths. They include Mandinka Ajami manuscripts and bilingual texts written in Arabic with Mandinka Ajami glosses. The themes are as varied as the manuscripts. The materials include astrology and divination techniques, poems of renowned Mandinka scholars such as Kang Kalifa Diaby and Sitookoto Dabo, key events in recent Senegambian history (such as the coup attempt of Kukoi Samba Sanyang in The Gambia in 1981), texts on Arabic grammar, Islamic rituals and creed, the importance of knowledge, and religious sermons delivered by an Imam on the occasions of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Led by Professor Fallou Ngom, the project initially focused on preserving endangered Mandinka Ajami manuscripts of the southern Casamance region of Senegal. However, our fieldwork team found on the ground when the project began that the endangered manuscripts were richer than initially anticipated. They encompass four major types: 1) Arabic texts; 2) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic; 3) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic and local languages (Soninke and Mandinka); and 4) Mandinka Ajami texts. Because all the manuscripts are equally important and document the preoccupations and intellectual traditions of the Mandinka people of Senegambia and beyond, we expanded the project beyond its original focus on Mandinka Ajami texts to include Arabic and bilingual (Arabic and Mandinka or Soninke) manuscripts we were allowed to digitize.

This is a joint project between Boston University and the West African Research Center (WARC), funded by the British Library/Arcadia Endangered Archives Programme. Support for this project was provided by the BU College of Arts & Sciences (Dean Ann E. Cudd and Associate Dean Nancy Ammerman), the Department of Anthropology, and Boston University Libraries. Fieldwork Team: Professor Fallou Ngom (Principal Investigator; former Director of the African Studies Center), Ablaye Diakité (Local Project Manager), Mr. Ibrahima Yaffa (General Field Facilitator), and Ibrahima Ngom (photographer). Technical Team: Professor Fallou Ngom and Eleni Castro (Technical Lead, BU Libraries). This collection of Mandinka Ajami materials is copied as part of the African Studies Center’s African Ajami Library. Access Condition and Copyright: These materials are subject to copyright and are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are fully cited using the information below. For use, distribution or reproduction beyond these terms, contact Professor Fallou Ngom ( Required Citation: Materials in this web edition should be cited as: Ngom, Fallou, Castro, Eleni, & Diakité, Ablaye. (2018). African Ajami Library: EAP 1042. Digital Preservation of Mandinka Ajami Materials of Casamance, Senegal. Boston: Boston University Libraries: For Inquiries: please contact Professor Fallou Ngom ( For technical assistance, please contact

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  • Sitookoto Daabo la Suukuwo: A Poem by Sitokoto Dabo (Arfang Bajinka: Open your ears!) 

    Dabo, Sitokoto
    The document is a copy of a Mandinka Ajami poem written by the famous Mandinka poet, Aboubacar Dabo, who is popularly known as Sitokoto Dabo. The poem deals with Islamic inheritance rules, explains the notion of inheritance ...
  • Kitāb al-'Ilm: Book of Knowledge 

    The manuscript is a copy from an Arabic original written by Imam al-Ghazali with recent glosses in Mandinka Ajami, which was made thirty two years ago. It discusses the importance of knowledge. It highlights how the benefits ...
  • Kaŋ Kalifa Jaabi la Araabukaŋ Kuloolu Karandiro: Arabic Grammar Lessons by Kang Kalifa Diaby 

    Diaby, Kang Kalifa
    The document is a copy from the original written by the famous Mandinka scholar and teacher, Kang Kalifa Diaby. The document is designed to teach Arabic grammar to Mandinka learners. The document is bilingual. Mandinka ...
  • Kaŋ Kalifa Jaabi la Suukuwo: A Poem by Kang Kalifa Diaby 

    Diaby, Kang Kalifa
    The manuscript is a copy of a poem written by the renowned Mandinka scholar, Kang Kalifa Diaby. The poem is dedicated to the Tunisian scholar, Ibn Zayd al-Qayrawānī, who lived in the 4th century (AH). The manuscript is ...
  • Kitaaboo Foloota: The Book Began 

    The manuscript is a Mandinka Ajami poem titled Kitaaboo Foloota (English: The Book Began), which alludes to the beginning of the Quran. The poem praises God and Prophet Muḥammad and teaches tawḥid (English: oneness of God). ...
  • Aqīda: Teaching Islamic Creed 

    Bayo, Ablaye
    The manuscript is a copy from the original Arabic document with glosses in Mandinka Ajami made by Ablaye Bayo in 1983. The document is for students at the elementary level in the Mandinka Islamic curriculum.
  • Tawḥid: Oneness of God 

    The manuscript is a copy of the Arabic original. It deals with the unique attributes of God. It contains new added glosses in Mandinka Ajami, as the blue ink made by a modern pen indicates.
  • Images of Ibrahima Bayo and Tanaff Arrondissement 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-07-03)
    Images taken at the home of the manuscript owner, Ibrahima Bayo in Tanaff, Sedhiou, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in July 2018. The first image is of the manuscript owner being interviewed by Ibrahima ...
  • Lasili Kitaabo aniŋ Banna Sali Kutubo: Rituals and ʻĪd al-ʾaḍḥā Sermon 

    Contains a collection of three small manuscripts, including a three-page religious poem with glosses in Mandinka Ajami, a three-page document dealing with Islamic rituals with glosses in Mandinka Ajami, and an Imam's sermon ...
  • Sitookoto Daabo la Suukuwo: A Poem by Sitokoto Dabo (Yaa Allah, Yaa Rahman, Yaa Rahim) 

    Dabo, Sitokoto
    The manuscript is a copy of the original written in Mandinka Ajami by Sitokoto Dabo, one of the most famous Mandinka Ajami poets of Senegambia. The poem combines praises of God for His protection and mercy with prayers for ...

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