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The Role of Islam, Ajami writings, and educational reform in Sulemaana Kantè’s N’ko

  • Coleman Donaldson


The written words of African Muslims have recently received renewed attention. This stems from a push to go beyond colonial archives as well as concerns with terrorism and Islamic radicalization. While Ajami—that is, African languages written in Arabic script—has been a part of this trend, Manding-language publications in the N’ko script have been overlooked. And yet, this literary industry is distinctly Islamic. Putting the writings of Sulemaana Kantè into conversation with historical authors and his contemporaries, Donaldson demonstrates that N’ko represents an iteration of Afro-Muslim vernacular thought, thereby illuminating Kantè and a body of N’ko and Ajami publications.

Les écrits des musulmans africains ont récemment reçu une attention renouvelée. Cela découle d’une volonté de dépasser les archives coloniales ainsi que les préoccupations concernant le terrorisme et la radicalisation islamique. Alors que l’Ajami, c’est-à-dire les langues africaines écrites en caractères arabes, fasse partie de cette tendance, les publications en langue mandingue et plus particulièrement en écriture N’ko ont été négligées. Cependant, cette industrie littéraire est distinctement islamique. Mettant les écrits de Sulemaana Kantè en conversation avec des auteurs historiques et contemporains, Donaldson démontre que l’écriture N’ko représente une itération de la pensée vernaculaire afro-musulmane, illuminant ainsi l’œuvre de Kantè ainsi qu’un ensemble de publications d’écriture N’ko et Ajami.

As palavras escritas dos muçulmanos africanos tornaram-se recentemente alvo de redobrada atenção. Este fenómeno surge em consequência de um esforço por ir além dos arquivos coloniais, bem como da preocupação com o terrorismo e com a radicalização islâmica. Ao passo que as línguas ajami — ou seja, as línguas africanas escritas no alfabeto arábico — têm integrado esta tendência recente, as publicações em línguas mandingas, escritas no alfabeto n’ko, têm sido largamente ignoradas. E no entanto, esta produção literária é marcadamente islâmica. Colocando em diálogo os escritos de Sulemaana Kantè e os de outros autores históricos, Donaldson demonstra que o alfabeto n’ko corresponde a uma reiteração do pensamento vernacular afro-muçulmano, assim permitindo aprofundar a leitura de Kantè e de um conjunto de publicações em n’ko e em ajami.

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The Role of Islam, Ajami writings, and educational reform in Sulemaana Kantè’s N’ko

  • Coleman Donaldson


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