New Yoruba Ajami Material in Database

29 February 2012

By Susana Molins Lliteras

PLEASE NOTE: This blog post refers to manuscripts contained within our MEMBERS ONLY database. If you would like to access these documents and many others, please REGISTER for full access to the database.

In October of last year, the Nigerian scholar of Arabic written traditions, Amidu Sanni, spent two weeks in Cape Town and very generously agreed to upload onto our database some of the Yoruba ajami material he has collected over the years.  This material is quite unique and represents a vibrant tradition that is still alive today in southern Nigeria.  Of course, the Hausa ajami tradition of Northern Nigeria has been well known and studied for some time, however, the Yoruba material is an exciting new field, that has only recently begun to be explored.  During his enlightening talk , Prof Sanni read some of the Yoruba ajami poetry and explained its emergence and development in its historical context.

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The material uploaded in the database covers a range of fields. Badamasi’s Waka is one of the oldest known examples of the waka genre in Yoruba ajami written by Badamasi bin Musa Agbaji (d. circa 1891).  Another, more recent example of poetry in Yoruba ajami is A poem by Abu Bakr Omo Ikokoro, who died in 1936.  Two manuscripts deal with the history of the Imams of Ibadan.  The first, Aderoju Awwal on the first eight Imams gives a chronological account of the lives and times of the first eight Imams of the city and includes a poem in praise of the Prophet Muhammad by the same author. The History of Muslim Scholars and Imams of Ibadanland written in 1940 by Ahmad Rufai Oke Are (d. 1971), the first jurisconsult of Ibadan, discusses the history of the origins of Islam and Imams of the city, based on oral sources.  Finally, we have uploaded two academic articles to give further context to this material.  The first, a German article entitled Waka-Sakara-Apala-Fuji- Islamisch beeinflusst Musik der Yoruba by Wolfgang Bender, is a discussion of the musical genres of Waka, Sakara, Apala, and Fuji, the Nigerian indigenous music types which evolved under the influence of Islam.  The last article,  Islamic verse in ajami among the Yoruba, is an excellent description and analysis of the Yoruba ajami tradition by Amidu Sanni presented at a conference in Ethiopia and due to be published shortly.

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