The project

“African voices in Islamic manuscripts from Mali: a study of African languages written in Arabic-based script (Ajami)” is a project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (AZ 03/BE/15). It was inaugurated in September 2015 and will terminate in September 2017. This project, headed by Dr Dmitry Bondarev, is based at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg. Most of the research is conducted in Mali by five project members.

The project focuses on the identification and preliminary analysis of the Ajami manuscripts held in the Bamako collections transferred from Timbuktu, as well as of those held in the libraries of Djenné, Ségou, Ansongo, and Nioro du Sahel.

The objectives of the projects are manifold:
The first objective is to identify as many Ajami manuscripts as possible, in order to better assess the amount of Ajami material as compared to Arabic-language writing. This work will result in the elaboration of a basic handlist, to be used for orientation in future cataloguing and research projects.
The second objective is to catalogue a selected set of Ajami manuscripts based on the cataloguing model developed by the team. This catalogue will serve as a basis for thematic catalogues, focusing on the detailed description of Ajami material.
The third objective is to carry out a palaeographic, historical and linguistic analysis of a selected set of manuscripts identified during the first year of the project.