Founded and led by Dr. Fallou Ngom (Professor of Anthropology and former Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University), the African Ajami Library (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 is envisioned as a continental open access public repository of aggregated Ajami texts from Muslim Africa.
The Ajami Lab is a collaborative research hub for a network of specialists at the Universität Hamburg and beyond who investigate Ajami literacy, texts and manuscripts across Africa and its global diaspora. It is currently carrying out wide-scale documentation and study of Ajami writings in West Africa under the auspices of a long-term research project ‘African voices in the Islamic manuscripts from Mali: Documenting and exploring African languages written in Arabic script (Ajami)’, headed by Dr Dmitry Bondarev. The project – started in 2017 and projected until 2029 – is funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschunsgemeinschaft, DFG). The aim is to catalogue Ajami manuscripts held in private and state collections of Mali and West Africa as well as to carry out historical and linguistic analysis of the material brought to light by the cataloguing process. These endeavors are being jointly pursued by the Hamburg Unit working in Germany and the Bamako Unit in Mali.
The African Language Materials Archive, or ALMA, is a multi-partner project focusing on the promotion and documentation of literature and literacy in the languages of Africa. It further serves to assist African language authors and publishers in publicizing and distributing their work. The digital collection contains documents of Wolofal Ajami (in the Wolof language) that have been contributed by Prof. Fallou Ngom of Boston University.
The digital library “Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa” contains archival and research materials that explore Islamic practices in the West African countries of Senegal and Ghana. Presented in six galleries of audio and video interviews, transcripts, photographs, maps, documents, and multimedia presentations, these resources shed much-needed light on how Muslims in West Africa accept religious difference and create productive interactions among Christians, Muslims, and practitioners of other faiths.
The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) facilitates the digitisation of archives around the world that are in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration. Thanks to generous funding from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, it has provided grants to more than 400 projects in 90 countries worldwide, in over 100 languages and scripts. Since 2004, the Programme has digitised over seven million images and 25 thousand sound tracks. Archive types digitised so far include rare printed sources, manuscripts, visual materials, audio recordings. It contains an extensive collection of Ajami manuscripts from West Africa.
The Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) at the Northwestern University is the only research institute in North America specifically devoted to the study Islam in Africa. ISITA sponsors and facilitates collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship, programming, and publications on the Islamic tradition of learning in Africa and promotes a broader awareness of the role of Islam in African societies. It encourages intellectual exchange, especially with Africa-based scholars, and produces new knowledge on Islamic thought in Africa. It has established Northwestern as an internationally known hub of research, publications, programming, and student training in the field of Islam in Africa.
WAAMD is a bi-lingual database that was developed at the University of Illinois in the late 1980s to describe a collection of Arabic manuscripts in southern Mauritania (Boutilimit). It subsequently has been used to compile a union catalogue of other West African collections, including manuscript libraries in West Africa, Europe and the United States. Beginning in 2018, inventories from the SAVAMA-DCI project in Timbuktu are being added. This is a work in progress that will be expanding as additional library data from West Africa is being made available. WAAMD is hosted by the Library of the University of California, Berkeley.
Timbuktu, Mali, is the legendary city founded as a commercial center in West Africa nine hundred years ago. Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the ancient manuscripts presented in this exhibition cover every aspect of human endeavor and are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages. These ancient manuscripts cover every aspect of human endeavor. The manuscripts are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages and provide irrefutable proof of a powerful African literary tradition. Scholars in the fields of Islamic Studies and African Studies believe that analysis of these texts will cause Islamic, West African, and World History to be reevaluated. These manuscripts, surviving from as long ago as the fourteenth century, are remarkable artifacts important to Malian and West African culture. The exhibited manuscripts date from the sixteenth to eighteenth century. The manuscripts on view are from the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library and the Library of Cheick Zayni Baye of Boujbeha, two of the most noteworthy institutions in the Timbuktu area.
Language as archive: European linguistics and the social history of the Sahara and Sahel in the eighteenth and nineteenth century is an ERC funded project (ERC Starting Grant 759390 (2018-2023) , hosted by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the IMAf. The eighteenth and nineteenth century history of the central Sahara and Sahel has primarily been written using European or jihadist Arabic sources. This has led to an overwhelming emphasis on religion, politics, and geography as core themes that shaped social and cultural dynamics in this region. By focusing on sources in African languages—until now largely forgotten by historians—the ERC-STG LANGARCHIV project aims at revealing a new corpus of texts in Hausa and Kanuri collected in the 18th and 19th century.