Thursday, February 25, 2010

Koran Master Alpha Issa Kanta with his two sons and a trunk of manuscripts. His collection remains at his residence, which is attached to his Koran School. His collection is large and he chose to show 1035 MSS to the team.

The present survey continues the work initiated by the Malian manuscript expert Abdel Kader Haidara and Stephanie Diakité in 2004, when Haidara estimated that there were in the region of 10 000 manuscripts in Djenné.
During the months of August to November 2009, this present Endangered Archives Programme survey was carried out with the aim of establishing the scope and extent of the Arabic manuscripts in Djenné, including those held by the Djenné library as well as in the residences of individual Djenné families, some of these connected to Koran Schools.
The project was launched by an event televised on Malian News at the Djenné Library on August 16th to which the town dignitaries were invited as well as representatives of the ancient Djenné families known to be in possession of manuscript collections. Abdel Kader Haidara was present as the advisor on the project and he gave an address. The same evening a banquet was held at the library itself. This was intended to promote good will from the town’s population and facilitate the work of the archivists. It achieved its purpose in so far that numerous families contacted the archivist team and appointments were made to view their private collections in situ in the family residences. In addition many manuscripts were handed over to the safe keeping of the library itself.
The team of researchers included one experienced archivist from Timbuktu, Samba Ibrahim, and two Djenné archivists connected to the Djenné manuscript Library, Garba Yaro and Yelfa Djéité. These two received instruction in the listing and handling of manuscripts by Samba Ibrahim in the course of the work. Towards the end of the project the team was joined by Moustafa Issa from Timbuktu, who spent one month transferring the hand-written Arabic notes by the team onto computer as well as instructing Garba Yaro in how to continue this work.
Abdel Kader Haidara, having laid down the guide lines to the work in August returned to spend a few days in December to inspect what had been achieved and to give advice on how to proceed with a future potential Major Project.


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