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THE PRESERVATION OF ANCIENT ARABIC MANUSCRIPTS: A REFLECTION ON SOME SELECTED PUBLIC REPOSITORIES IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

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The three repositories covered by this paper, the Arewa House Arabic Manuscript repository, the National Jos Museum Arabic Manuscript Collection, and the Gidan Dan Hausa Arabic Manuscripts Collection in Kano, maintain great collections of ancient Arabic manuscripts on diverse subjects. The repositories are in jeopardy due to poor storage systems, lack of capacity building on the part of the staff, and above all laxity on the part of policy makers. The question of procuring and preserving Nigerian Arabic manuscripts for proper utilization by researchers has been a major source of concern to both Nigerian and foreign scholars in the last fifty years or so. Although a lot of progress has been made in this regard since the pioneering days of Professors Abdullahi Smith, K. O. Dike, Murray Last, and others, the three Arabic manuscript repositories covered by this study continue to function in bad conditions, ranging from a lack of paper conservation supplies, poor storage systems, and a complete absence of digitization equipment for proper archiving. However, there is now a defi nite consensus among researchers and other stakeholders in this field on the urgency of the matter and, happily, a decisive change of attitude towards the fate of the Arabic / Ajami Manuscripts in most of the repositories of northern Nigeria. A spate of conferences and workshops were organized in quick succession in the last two years and an impressive number of research publications were presented for serious discussions on virtually all aspects of the problems facing the Arabic manuscripts repositories.

Affiliations: 1: Arewa House, Centre for Historical Documentation and Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria

10.5192/21540993020101
/content/journals/10.5192/21540993020101
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/content/journals/10.5192/21540993020101
2011-06-03
2018-10-21

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