After the publication of the history of Sinder and the interest shown in local and social history, we chose to continue our research on the same theme, this time focusing on the history of Zinder. The manuscript entitled “Tarikh Zinder” ( ضياء النيجر من تاريخ زندر ) is a manuscript written in Arabic (Tanoudi Ibn al-Boukhari Ibn al-ajal al-Timbukti al-agadassi) on the history of Zinder (Niger). This is Manuscript No. 37 of Volume 1 in the catalogue of manuscripts hosted by the Department of Arabic and Ajami Manuscripts of the Institute for Research in Human Sciences at Abdou Moumouni University in Niger. The incipit begins with a Basmala, a eulogy. Start of text:
…يا بني إن زندر في زمن قديم كان ذات أشجار و وديان و لكن سأخبرك ببدء الأمر إلى منتهاها… ،
End of text:
و هذا ما أنعم الله عليّ و قدر لي ما أطيق انتهى… الحمد لله رب العالمين ثم الصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وآله و صحبه و سلّم. أصب الصباح ركب مصطى
Histoire de Zinder explores the social history of the Zinder region in the 19th Century, in the very beginnings of colonisation, and particularly the history of the sultanate, its socio-political organisation and its relations with the other sultanates. The manuscript evokes the arrival of the French under the Cazémajou mission in charge of reconnoitring the Say-Barruwa line up to Lake Chad, and the circumstances of Cazémajou’s death.
The Islamic manuscript tradition of East Africa is rich and varied and spread throughout the Swahili cultural zone, including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and the Comoro Islands.
Although much research has been conducted in past two decades, the East African tradition has still received less scholarly attention than its West African counterpart. One reason is that the extant corpus is smaller, and significantly more recent, dating mainly to the 19th and 20th centuries. Another reason is that many collections remain in the ownership of families or mosques.
This workshop will first present the known manuscript tradition in East Africa, mainly with reference to Kenya and Tanzania, but also the Comoro Islands and Mozambique. The intellectual influence of Yemen/Hadramawt and Oman on textual production, circulation, collection, and usage (especially in teaching) will be discussed, combined with the emergence of the Swahili literary tradition.
Secondly, the workshop will present the main repositories of Islamic manuscripts in East Africa and the state of mapping/cataloguing some sites that has yet to be fully investigated.
Finally, this workshop will discuss various initiatives to make collections available and the important relationship between private custodians and national institutions to maintain collections. Here, emphasis will be on the shared Islamic tradition of East Africa, alongside the shared challenges facing the actual collections. The aim is to discuss ideas about how the East African tradition can best be mapped, digitized, conserved, and studied on a regional level, taking into account the shared tradition on which it is based and which is still very present.