The Fondo Ka’ti comes to Cape Town

12 March 2012

At the end of last year, the director of the Fondo Ka’ti, Ismael Diadié Haidara spent 10 very productive and intense days in Cape Town with the Tombouctou Mss Project.  This was part of our on-going collaboration with the Fondo Ka’ti Library based on common research and publication interests.  The work done by Ismael Diadié Haidara and his staff is at quite an advanced stage and we hope to see some joint publications by the end of this year.  We’ll keep you updated of course.

Le Fondo Ka’ti vient au Cap

9 March 2012

A la fin de l’année dernière, le directeur du Fondo Ka’ti, Ismael Diadié Haidara a passé 10 jours très productifs et intenses dans la ville du Cap, avec le Projet Manuscrits de Tombouctou. Ceci faisait partie de notre collaboration en cours avec la Bibliothèque Fondo Ka’ti basée sur la recherche et des intérêts communs de publication. Le travail effectué par Ismael Diadié Haidara et son personnel est à un stade assez avancé et nous espérons voir quelques publications conjointes d’ici à la fin de cette année. Nous vous tiendrons au courant bien sûr.

New Yoruba Ajami Material in Database

29 February 2012

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.

From Cape Town to Timbuktu, A novice Traveller’s Reflections, Part 2

17 January 2012

Those who are familiar with Jamaica Kincaid’s work, especially A Small Place (1998), will have noted the reference to natives and tourists as well as colour, and the register in which these references were made as nodding in the direction of her book. This time round Joseph Conrad is at the back of my mind. Soon you’ll see how. In the last piece you got a glimpse of us, the natives of somewhere else, visiting manuscripts libraries, mosques and an artisan’s studio. In the evening, dust covered and exhausted, we lumber into La Maison hotel to sup on the delights that were on offer that night.

From Cape Town to Timbuktu: A Novice Traveller’s Reflections, Part 1

10 January 2012

I went to Timbuktu and I came back. I have a T-shirt to prove it. It says, “J’ etais a Timbouctou et je suis revenu” (I was in Timbuktu and I came back).  I have witnesses too, twelve of them. They were there. We were all there together, all twelve of us from South Africa and one person from Nigeria. Timbuktu is not just a myth; it is a real place where real people live. Some friends and colleagues laughed incredulously when I told them we were going to Timbuktu up until we left for Mali. They had grown up being told, “I’ll send you to Timbuktu,” when they were being naughty. Or when somebody had gone to an unimaginable place they were told, “So and so has gone to Timbuktu”. They really did not believe that Timbuktu existed. Well, I’ve been there now and what we saw and experienced was a lifetime’s education in a week. Here’s some of what I thought while we were there and after we came back.