Team

Saarah Jappie, Susana Molins Lliteras and Shamil Jeppie in Timbuktu Saarah Jappie, Susana Molins Lliteras and Shamil Jeppie in Timbuktu

Shamil Jeppie is the director of the project. He received his PhD from Princeton University. He has worked on aspects of the social history of Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, as well as 19th-century Sudan and founded this research project wherein he is exploring the formation of a culture of collecting in Timbuktu. He is also the director of the Institute of Humanities in Africa (HUMA) and a member of the Scientific Committee of CODESRIA. He serves on various platforms concerned with the development of the humanities, history and heritage in Africa and the global South.

Susana Molins Lliteras was born in Barcelona, Spain, and holds a degree from George Washington University in French and Spanish Literature. She completed a master’s in African Studies at UCT, researching the West African Tijaniyya tariqa's presence in Cape Town. In 2005, she joined the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project and has been an integral contributor to the project's events and output. Susana is currently a PhD candidate at UCT, researching the 16th-century historian Mahmud Ka’ti and his links with al-Andalus.

 Mauro Nobili received his PhD in African Studies at the University of Napoli L’Orientale in 2008.  He has been working for the Series Catalogorum, an Italian-French project which catalogues Islamic manuscripts that involves the Instituto per L’Oriente C.A. Nallino (Roma) and the CNRS – Monde Iranien et Indien (Paris). Within this project, he produced a full-scale catalogue of the De Gironcourt collection of West African Arabic manuscripts published in 2013.  In October 2011, he was awarded with a six-month Petra Kappert fellowship at the University of Hamburg, within the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures to develop a database cataloguing Islamic manuscripts from sub-Saharan Africa. After two remarkable years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town and researcher at the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, Mauro Nobili has taken up the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (USA). He is, however, still connected to the project in the capacity of a Research Associate. 

Rifqah Kahn joined the team in August 2011 as a research assistant and brings much academic and professional experience to the project. She completed her Bachelors in Social Science at UCT majoring in Psychology, Sociology and Public Administration. She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a Masters in Social Anthropology with a focus on organisations and public cultures. Her experiences span the education, development and media sectors. Rifqah's research interests include the portrayal of Muslim women in mainstream culture, how cultural and religious identities impact how communities choose to address the challenges raised by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and understanding the global and local demands currently facing the NGO sector, and how best to mediate them.

Hassen Muhammed Kawo was born in Ethiopia and became affiliated with the project in 2009. Since then, he has worked closely with the team, sharing insights into Ethiopian manuscript culture and book history. He received a Bachelor of Education in Arabic language from the College of Education of Zanzibar, Tanzania in 2003 and also holds a Master of Arts in Arabic Philology from Addis Ababa University.  Hassen currently works as a lecturer in the Arabic Program Unit in the Faculty of Language Studies, Addis Ababa. He has presented at conferences and seminars on Islamic writing cultures and related research at a range of institutions both on the continent and internationally. Hassen intends to undertake his PhD at the University of Cape Town, to continue his research on literary history and written heritage in the Horn of Africa, Islamic education and Muslim scholars in Ethiopia.

Abubakar Sadiq Abdulkadir has studied Arabic language and Islam at different institutes and circles in Nigeria, Syria, Mauritania, Senegal and South Africa. Abubakar’s interest is in West African intellectual and social history. His major focus is on Islam and the role played by Muslim scholars who laid the social-cultural foundations for the Muslim societies that developed before the pre-nation-state and after the colonial period. He has translated ʿUthmān b. Fodio’s Tanbīḥ al-ikhwān ‘alā jawāz ittikhādh al-majlis li ajli taʿlīm al-niswān ʿilm furūḍ al-aʿyān min dīn Allāh, amongst other works.  When Abubakar is not studying or teaching, he is with friends entertaining the minds with jokes or alone reflecting on the art of Arabic poetry verses and their usage as a medium of dissemination of ideals and thoughts. He has a gluttonous love for chicken.

Shabnam Parker is a graduate student at the University of Cape Town and joined Tombouctou Manuscripts Project as a research assistant in 2014. She has an active interest in aspects that relate to culture, health and illness as well as how those on the margin interact with the proverbial centre. Her current research is in the field of medical anthropology and focuses on representations and experiences of TB in a middle class setting in Cape Town, South Africa. She is particularly attentive to the ways in which aspects of spiritual healing in Islam are imbricated in the everyday lifeworlds of her research interlocutors. In addition, her past positons as a writing centre consultant and an educational development teaching assistant cultivated a tangential interest in academic literacies, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and academic mentoring.