Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare by Email

The collection consists of four manuscripts. The first one is by Al-Shanfarā al-Azdī, and deals with the story of an outlaw man in the pre-Islamic era seeking revenge. The second text is a classical Arabic poem called Banāt Su'ād by Ka'ab bin Zuhayr, who who was initially one of the fiercest critics of Prophet Muḥammad. The third manuscript is a copy of the Quran written in Arabic with comments in Soninke Ajami. Soninke is one of the Mande languages of West Africa. It is spoken in countries such as Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea Conakry, and Guinea Bissau. The fourth manuscript is an Arabic poem with extensive glosses in Mandinka. These manuscripts were digitized in the home of the owner (Kelountang Thiam) in the neighborhood of Kandialang in Ziguinchor, Senegal.

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

Collections in this community

Recently Added

  • Al-Shanfarī al-Azdī 

    Thiam, Kelountang
    The manuscript is a poem dealing with the story of an outlaw man called Al-Shanfarā al-Azdī who lived in the 6th century during the pre-Islamic era. The man decided to avenge the killing of his father. He lived for awhile ...
  • Banāt Su‛ād 

    Thiam, Kelountang; ibn Zuhayr, Ka'b
    The manuscript is a copy of an ancient Arabic poem by Ka'b ibn Zuhayr, a famous Arab poet who was initially critical of Prophet Muḥammad. His criticisms had put him in grave danger of losing his life. He finally repented ...
  • Araabukaŋ Suukuwo aniŋ Mandinkakaŋo: Arabic poetry with Mandinka Glosses 

    bin Nasser, Abdullah
    The poem was originally written by an Arab poet called 'Abdullah bin Nasser. In the poem, the poet gave tribute to his teacher, named 'Abdullah bin Tāhir. The poet also talks about death and the afterlife and praises God. ...
  • Araabukaŋo aniŋ Soninkekaŋo Alkuraana Fasaro: The Quran with glosses in Arabic and Soninke 

    Thiam, Fode Moustapha
    The manuscript is an old copy of the Quran. According to the owner, it is about two hundred years old, and was written during the time when Soninke was the language of Muslim scholars, who were spreading Islam and teaching ...
  • 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.