Arabic Manuscripts Production and Distribution in Ghana: A Close Study of Jumucat's al-Lāmiyyat al-Ṣughrā

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study focuses on a manuscript entitled 'al-Lāmiyyat al-Ṣughra' composed by Malam Jumu'at in 1939 on the occasion of the death of his teacher and brother, 'Ustādh Muḥammad Bāko, who was then the Chief Imam of Accra. The manuscript appears to be an original one, with no accession number, albeit, it is not clear whether it was handwritten by Jumu'at himself or by another scribe. It was found accidentally among the manuscripts photocopied and preserved at Herskovits library in Northwestern from the collection of Institute of African Studies (IAS), University of Ghana, and therefore was sent back to IAS in 2007 by Dr. Andrea Brigaglia. In terms of content, the manuscript is quite similar to IAS/AR 195, but the hand-writings differ appreciably: IAS/AR 195 was collected from 'Ustādh Adam b. Uthman in Amakom Kumasi on October 5, 1963, while the manuscript under consideration was acquired from 'Ustādh Sacd 'Itan in Zango, Accra on July 7, 1971. The manuscript is written in thin central Sudanic script on a brownish white semi-thick paper with two sets of inks: local black ink and artificial blue ink. The black ink was used for writing the lines of the poem, while the blue ink was used for writing names of persons, places and dates cited in the poem, including the numerous marginal notes across the five folios. Overall, this manuscripts is by far more legible than IAS/AR/ 195. IAS/AR/ 195 has already been a subject of study by K.O. Odoom (1971) who sought to demonstrate the historical value of this manuscript, insisting it is unique in the sense that it is the only document by a Muslim scholar on pioneering Muslim communities in Accra. Far from this, this particular study seeks to explore this manuscript in order underscore some of the intricacies connected to manuscripts production in Ghana, ranging from the occasions that inspire the authorship of Arabic manuscripts, the choice of appropriate titles, mode and format of writing, the relevance of accompanying marginal notes, alterations in manuscripts by scribes, mode of distribution, and interconnectedness of manuscripts in terms of the subject matter they address




Chief Imam of Accra, manuscript, central Sudanic script, marginal notes