4 July 2012


Stefan Reichmuth

Prof Dr Stefan Reichmuth,
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Arabic Literary Culture at the Nigerian Crossroads:
Manuscripts and Library Collections in Ilorin (Nigeria)

Since its establishment as a rebellious military hub of the Oyo empire in the late 18th century, and its emergence as the southernmost emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate in the 1820s, Ilorin developed into one of the major regional centers of Arabic and Islamic Learning, attracting Muslim scholars and students from different parts of West Africa and even beyond. This development is amply documented in local collections of Arabic manuscripts and in the growth of Arabic literary activities which, from early beginnings in the 19th century and in the colonial period, gained in momentum after Nigerian independence. Drawing on a survey of Arabic manuscripts and library collections conducted in the 1980s, it will be attempted to demonstrate Ilorin's Arabic manuscripts as a case of a remarkably swift reproduction and expansion of the established patterns of the literary culture of Sudanic Africa, and to highlight the interplay of regional as well as transregional influences that contributed to its specific development.