The Prevalence of Arabic and Ajami Manuscripts in Northern Nigeria, Implications for Acccess, Use, and Enduring Management: A Framework for Research

Article excerpt

A paper presented at a National Conference on Exploring Nigeria's Arabic/Ajami Manuscript Resources for Development of New Knowledge, organized by Arewa House and Ford Foundation Office of West Africa Region, Kaduna, Nigeria, 7th-8th May, 2009

Introduction

Arabic and Ajami manuscripts constitute an important aspect of the intellectual heritage of the peoples of Northern Nigeria. Their value in administration, law, scholasticism, historical construction and cultural preservation cannot be overemphasized. Their subjects matter are diverse which cover Languages and Linguistic, History, Diplomacy, Law, Sociology, Economics, Politics, Education, Literature, Culture, Geography, Architecture, Medicine, Communications, Science, Technology, Epistemology, Philosophy and Logic. (Batiste, 2007 and Saeed 2007). They imbibe a veritable body of knowledge which can be sustainably explored for the benefit of present and future generations of humanity. However, this can only be possible if under conditions of optimum access and use by information seekers which may include Administrators, Politicians, Scholars, Researchers, Members of the Judiciary and even Social Workers. Indicators such as the literature suggest ample abundance of Arabic and Ajami manuscripts in Northern Nigeria. These manuscripts however, are held at scattered locations and under various, sometimes undeterminable conditions of management and care, which greatly affect access to them and their use as well as enduring management.

In order to ensure access, effective use and management, it is imperative that a study be conducted to determine their prevalence (existence) and the conditions under which they are held, managed and preserved. This paper presents a modest attempt at providing a framework for undertaking the study by highlighting the major elements of the study and its subsequent report.

Statement of the Problem

Arabic and Ajami manuscripts abound in Northern Nigeria in great amount with actual and potential values for administration, research, teaching/learning, language development, cultural preservation and acquisition of general knowledge. They cover wide range of subject areas including politics, linguistics, law, history, medicine, sciences, culture, technology, architecture, philosophy, spiritualism and logic. Those manuscripts are held, and managed by varied agencies, individuals and families, in scattered and sometimes undetermined locations and conditions.

In order to attain their maximum value, there should be optimum access to them and their effective use by interested groups and individuals such as Administrators, Politicians, Scholars, Researchers, Artists, and Social Workers.

In order to ensure such access and use as well as enduring management, there is the need to first empirically determine their existence (including types, amount, subject coverage, locations and ownership), and conditions of management including preservation. Lack of such empirical knowledge is considered a problem worthy of been addressed.

Research Questions

The study will be guided by the following research questions.

* What Arabic and Ajami manuscripts exist in northern Nigeria?

* What are their estimated volumes and intellectual contents?

* What are their Forms and ages?

* Where are they been held and by whom?

* Under what conditions are they been held in terms of management?

* Who utilize them and for what purpose(s)?

* To what extent are they accessible and utilized?

* What bibliographical control mechanism can be established in regards to those manuscripts?

* What are the constrains associated with their management, accessibility, and use?

* What measures can be taken to address those constrains? Research Objectives

The study will seek to achieve the following objectives

* To determine the existence and nature of Arabic and Ajami manuscript in northern Nigeria

* To determine their volumes and intellectual contents

* To determines their forms and ages

* To determine their custody

* To determine their conditions of management

* To find out who utilize them and under for what purposes

* To establish bibliographic control mechanism of those manuscripts

* To determine the extent of their accessibility and use

* To identify problems associated with their management, accessibility and use

* To propose measures that could address the problems Review of Related Literature

Literature will be reviewed under the following sub-headings:

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