Ajami in the Senegambia

by Fallou Ngom

Ajami is the centuries-old practice of using modified Arabic scripts to write non-Arabic languages. It comes from the Arabic word for foreigner or non-Arab and is used widely throughout West Africa for both religious and secular writings.

Ajami in the Senegambia makes accessible over 20 handwritten ajami manuscripts produced by West African scholars. The texts contain insightful discussions on mutual understanding between people of different faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds in Senegambia. They capture several Senegambian Muslim scholars' views on peaceful cohabitation, moderation and non-violence that have been a prominent feature of Senegambian communities.

Manuscripts appear in discrete scholar galleries where users can:

  • Examine the original texts
  • Watch and listen to scholars read/recite documents in four African languages including Wolof, Mandinka, Jóola Foñi, and three varieties of Haal-pula(a)r
  • Read transliterations and translations of manuscripts in African languages, English, and French
  • Experience a synchronized multimedia presentation of the manuscripts, video recitations, and transliteration/translations of featured ajami texts