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Fula and the Ajami Writing System in the Haalpulaar Society of Fuuta Tooro (Senegal And Mauritania): A Specific ‘Restricted Literacy’

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Chapter Summary

Fuuta Tooro is one of the places where the religion of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, spread. Now-a-days, other Fula-speaking regions have particular dynamic when it comes to using Ajami. The narrow use and limited social distribution of Ajami among the Haalpulaar'en brings to mind Goody's definition of 'restricted literacy' i.e., literacy whose characteristics are determined by "factors other than technique of writing itself". To contextualize Ajami in Fuuta Tooro thus requires an understanding of the rise of Pulaar writing system's main contender, the Roman script, locally called abajad or 'Bamako alphabet'. The choice of Roman script for development of Pulaar writing was thus reinforced through transnational and international network. Pulaar writing in Senegal and Mauritania, and the differences observed between Fulani areas, demonstrate how the diffusion of writing system takes place within a social, historical, and political context, even if practical aspects should also be taken into account.

Keywords: Ajami; Fula; Fuuta Tooro; Haalpulaar society; Mauritania; Pulaar writing system; Senegal



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