Ancient Africa Literary Tradition

 Ancient Africa Literary Tradition


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



approximately 18,000 manuscripts are still housed in the archives in Timbuktu, and some estimates

say that nearly 100,000 additional manuscripts remain in private collections

from the homes of the families of scholars in Timbuktu itsel



The Power of the Word

 “BorciinTarey”: Returning to Our Nobility

Conference on the Ancient African Literacy Tradition

On October 20th and 21st, 2006 the Auburn Avenue Research Library


On October 20th and 21st, 2006 the Auburn Avenue Research Library presents the “Borciin Tarey: Returning to Our Nobility” Conference on the Ancient African literacy tradition, celebrating the manuscripts from the scholars at Sankore Mosque in ancient Timbuktu, including some of the actual manuscripts from the collection of the Jean Lefe Ag Nouh family.

It has been estimated that approximately 18,000 manuscripts are still housed in the archives in Timbuktu, and some estimates say that nearly 100,000 additional manuscripts remain in private collections from the homes of the families of scholars in Timbuktu itself, and perhaps as many as a million more manuscripts remain in the Nation of Mali. Actual ancient manuscripts from the home of Mr. Nouh in Timbuktu will be on display at the conference. These are rare treasures.

These manuscripts, dating back as far as five to six hundred years ago, cover diverse academic fields of literature, theological material, mathematics, science, astronomy, law and other areas. While most are written in Arabic script, some record the knowledge and cultural traditions of ethnic groups such as the Songhai, Bamana, etc. It is the purpose of this conference to situate the literate tradition of ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai in the context of the whole African literary tradition, from the Nile to the Niger and beyond.

The depth and breadth of Africa’s ancient literary tradition has been obscured, leaving  many to conclude that African people had only oral traditions. Yet the ancient Nilotic scripts from Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt come from a cradle that led the Ancient world. Many other indigenous scripts from various parts of Africa must be considered, even as we celebrate the great heritage of Timbuktu, Djenné and Gao in Mali, Sokoto in Nigeria, as well as the Nsibidi, Adinkra and Dogona, and many other scripts.

It is not only the scripts, but the deep thinking that is associated with them that we seek to amplify. Their connection to and reflection of African World Views, knowledge and skills enlarge, in a robust way, our understanding of our African Continental heritage, and provides the basis for a more complete understanding of African culture in the diaspora.

In addition, and just as important, this literary and oral mastery tradition of African people was brought to the diaspora, and exists in power in diverse forms today, including such powerful forms as contemporary Hip Hop.

The preservation of this rich legacy, and its wide publication is needed now by African descendants and the world at large. Join us for an outstanding conference designed to punctuate this powerful aspect of African and African diaspora tradition.

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Plenary Presentations By

Dr. Hassimi Maiga, Gao Mali / Dr. Charles Finch, Morehouse Medical School / Dr. Noma LeMoine, Los Angeles Unified School District /Ms. Joycelyn A. Wilson, University of Georgia, Ph.D. Candidate / Al Singleton, Ed. Policy Studies, GSU

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REGISTRATION & INFORMATION Georgia State University Educational Policy Studies P.O. Box 3977 / Atlanta GA 30302-3977 / 404.651.3295 / 404.651.1154Auburn Avenue Research Library / October 20th & 21st

Early Registration $150 [includes 2 receptions] / Site Registration $200 / Students $20 – w/valid ID

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Sponsored by: San Hu Institute / Auburn Avenue Research Library / African American Studies Program, Georgia State University / Prometra / PerMaat Foundation, Inc. / Global Vision 20/20 / The Academy for Diaspora Literacy

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Sankore University or Sankore or The University of Sankore or Sankore Masjid is one of three ancient centers of learning located in Timbuktu, Mali, West Africa. The three Masjids (common word for mosque in the region) of Sankore, Djinguereber Mosque and Sidi Yahya compose the famous University of Timbuktu.—Wikipedia

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Timbuktu Manuscripts Project is a cultural project which aims to preserve around 700,000 scholarly Islamic manuscripts in the city of Timbuktu, Mali. Some of the manuscripts date back to the 13th century and are currently held in 24 private libraries in and around Timbuktu.

It also aims to make access to public and private libraries around Timbuktu more wider and easier to the Malian society and to and to show that the conventional historical view of Africa as a purely “oral continent” is not correct. The project begun on 2000 and it is scheduled to end in 2007.—Wikipedia

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Blessing the Boats

New and Selected Poems 1988-2000

By Lucille Clifton

Clifton’s poems owe a great deal to oral tradition. Her work is wonderfully musical and benefits greatly from being read aloud: “It is hard to remain human on a day/ when birds perch weeping/ in the trees and the squirrel eyes/ do not look away but the dog ones do/ in pity.” Her keen sense of rhythm, of the sound, tone, and texture of words, is delightful, a rare find in this day and age. The language is crystal clear and deceptively accessible. The poems are personal, but the distant thunder of history rumbles behind every line. As she says on seeing a photograph: “is it the cut glass/ of their eyes/ looking up toward/ the new gnarled branch/ of the black man/ hanging from a tree?” Clifton’s work hearkens back to the days of the Black Arts Movement and sheds light on the new black aesthetic. These are economical slices of ordinary life, celebrations, if you will, of African American existence. With simple language and common sense, she writes of grace, character, and race by way of the personal and familiar. Clifton’s voice, her unique vision and wisdom, make this book essential for any serious poetry collection.—Library Journal

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 29 September 2006



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