Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

02 July 2012

Highlighting Pre-colonial Documents from Northern Nigeria

Last month we announced the availability of records digitally copied by EAP087 Northern Nigeria: precolonial documents preservation scheme. Today's blog post has been written by Mohammed Bashir Salau, the principal investigator for EAP087.

In 2007, a group of researchers led by Mohammed Bashir Salau digitised materials related to the history of Kano at the Kano State History and Culture Bureau while carrying out the EAP087 pilot project in Northern Nigeria. Some of the copied materials were written in Arabic while others were written in English. The Arabic materials, consisting 166 files, include official letters written to the emir of Kano, a number of letters from the emir of Kano to other high ranking Sokoto Caliphate/Northern Nigerian leaders, letters written to Kano emirate judges, and letters from Kano judges to their counterparts elsewhere in Sokoto Caliphate/Northern Nigeria. These materials deal mainly with the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and they deal with diverse themes including: inheritance, marriage, land disupte,the nineteenth century jihad, trade disputes, divorce, theft, murder, and enslavement.

The English materials, consisting over 1000 files, include colonial assessment and reassessment reports as well as other official correspondences exchanged between colonial administrators in Northern Nigeria during the early twentieth century. These materials contain rich information about such issues as taxation, agriculture, labor, slavery, and social organization in colonial Kano. Also, some of them contain detailed information about the pre-colonial history of various districts in Kano.

Overall, the materials on Kano copied as part of the EAP087 pilot project are valuable not only because they provide unique and valuable historical evidence regarding such topics mentioned above, but also because they highlight oral traditions, eye witness accounts, African viewpoints, Muslim viewpoints,
European viewpoints, Christian viewpoints, and elite viewpoints on key events that unfolded in pre-colonial and early colonial Kano.

EAP087 image one

EAP087 image two

EAP087 image three

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