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The collection includes several manuscripts. The majority of them are written in Mandinka Ajami. These include: a biography of Fode Herba Drame, who founded the famous Mandinka learning center of Sunna-Karantaba; the list of Imams of Mankonomba; a list of important Mandinka riddles and their answers; a copy of the famous Arabic prayer called Dalā’il al-Khayrāt (Waymarks of Benefits); the names of people who served as chiefs of Mankomba; and personal correspondences of the current owner.

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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  • Heerebaa Darame la Lasiloo: The Origin of Herba Drame (The Founder of Sunna-Karantaba) 

    Unknown author
    The manuscript is a copy of the original, written in Mandinka Ajami. Fode Aladji Drame, the current owner, copied it in 1977. It is a biography of his great grandfather, Fode Herba Drame (1680-1775), who founded the town ...
  • Dalā’il al-Khayrāt: Waymarks of Benefits 

    al-Jazulī, Muhammad Sulaiman
    The manuscript is a copy of the Arabic original, written by the Moroccan Sufi leader, Muhammad Sulaiman al-Jazulī (death date 1495). It is a collection of prayers for Prophet Muhammad, which is very popular in Muslim ...
  • Mankonombaa Imaamoolu: Imams of Mankonomba 

    Almamy, Diang
    The manuscript is a copy of the original Mandinka Ajami document written by Diang Almamy. This document lists all the Imams who successively led the mosque of Mankonomba. Imams are highly respected authorities in Mandinka ...
  • Kitāb Tanbih al-Afkār: Book of Mandinka Riddles 

    Drame, El-hadji Kemo
    A Mandinka Ajami document with the Arabic title Kitāb Tanbih al-Afkār, which contains over 200 Mandinka riddles and their answers. Knowledge of riddles and their clever meaning is important in Mandinka society.
  • Mankonombaa Alkaaloolu aniŋ Fansuŋ Kayitoolu: Chiefs of Mankonomba and Personal Notes 

    Unknown author
    Contains two small sets of documents written in Mandinka Ajami. The first set provides the list of people who served as village chiefs since the founding of the town of Mankonomba. The second set consists of personal ...
  • Image of Imam El-hadji Kemo Drame 

    Ngom, Ibrahima (2018-09-30)
    Image of manuscript owner Imam El-hadji Kemo Drame in Mankonomba, Sedhiou, Senegal, for the manuscript digitization work done in September 2018.