About the Project

ʿAjamī is the Arabic term that refers to languages other than Arabic that are written in the Arabic script. ʿAjamī has been instrumental in the spread of Islam beyond the Arab heartland and, while ʿAjamī literatures of the Middle East and Asia are well-documented, scholars have tended to overlook the rich ʿAjamī legacies of sub-Saharan Africa. This project will highlight the ʿAjamī literatures of Hausa, Mandinka, Fula, and Wolof and their role in the spread of literacy and Islam in West Africa. Available on a freely accessible multimedia website, a general interpretive essay comparing the four literatures will be accompanied, for each of the four languages, by 20 digitized ʿAjamī manuscripts. Each will include interpretive materials, annotations, Latin alphabet transcription, French and English translations. Of these 20, a select five will feature video interviews and recitations by native speakers. A selection of the work will be published in the journal Islamic Africa.

Read more about the project here

An image of a Wolofal (Wolof Ajami) manuscript from Fallou Ngom’s collection at the British Library Endangered Archives Programme, part of the EAP 334 project.


A mill owner’s advertisement for grinding grains reads: “Ku bëgg wàllu wàlla soqlu wàlla tigadege wàlla nooflaay; kaay fii la. Waa Kër Xaadimu Rasuul [If you want (your grains) pounded or grinded or peanut butter effortlessly; come here. The People of The Servant of the Prophet (Ahmadou Bamba)]”. From: Fallou Ngom, 2015.