Notes from the “Manuscripts and Development” Conference in Bamako

From November 16-17, 2018, myself and Dr. Maria Luisa Russo had the pleasure of attending and presenting at a conference on “Manuscripts and Development” put on by the Arabic Department of the University of Bamako.

Carried out primarily in French and Arabic, the conference had a number of interesting talks focused on various research initiatives being carried out in Mali and elsewhere. Here, I’ll highlight three that stuck out to me:

Dr. Goro N’DIAY (University of Bamako) did an interesting presentation entitled “Les vocabulaires thérapeutiques dans les manuscrits ajami : cas traitement des maladies mentales” that was well received by the audience. It was in Arabic so I couldn’t follow it all, but I recognized a bunch of Manding plant names in the midst of his presentation. Dr. N’Diay’s work is part of an initiative of the University of Bamako’s Arabic Department focused on medicinal plants listed in Ajami manuscripts.

Dr. Abdoul Karim HAMADOU, did an interesting talk in French on one or two Songhai-Arabic lexicons from the Ahmed Baba Institute that are found in MS27538 and MS2457. The date of the manuscripts is unknown but the author’s name is mentioned somewhere within the documents. Dr. Hamadou used some of Paul Marty’s works to make links to the potential author.

Dr. Hamadou presenting on Songhai-Arabic lexicon manuscripts

Dr. Hamadou BOLY did an interesting presentation on one (or two) of the only extant writings of Cheikh Ahmadu Lobbo (founder of the Macina Empire of the 19th century).

The conference also included an exhibit of select manuscripts from either SAVAMA-DCI or the Ahmed Baba Institute.

One of the manuscripts on display at the conference

Looking forward to reading future publications stemming from some this work. Thanks again to the Arabic Department and the University of Bamako for organizing the event!


Author: Coleman Donaldson

Postdoc at the University of Hamburg interested in speech and literacy practices in Francophone and Manding-speaking West Africa.

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