Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

04 January 2016

National Archives Kaduna Collection

To start 2016, we have another guest blog related to the British Library's current exhibition on West Africa.  This time we have Dr Mohammed Salau writing about the National Archives Kaduna, a major repository for Northern Nigeria.

As a result of the efforts of late Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, who was committed to ensuring the proper custody, storage and preservation of Nigerian government records, the Nigerian government established the Nigerian Record Office in 1954. Soon after establishing this organisation, the Nigerian government authorized the establishment of three National Archives in Ibadan, Enugu and Kaduna.

Cover of one of the files.

EAP535/1/2/2/28 Infaqul maisuri vol. I (translated in Hausa) by Major Edgar, 1911. Original file description/cover 

The National Archives Kaduna was opened in June 1957. By 1963, it had acquired a permanent building at what is now known as 6 Yakubu Gowon Way from the Federal Government of Nigeria. The holdings of the National Archive Kaduna include newspapers, Arabic manuscripts, maps, pictures, government publications, parliamentary papers and written records from the colonial period. The Arabic documents largely deal with the nineteenth century. Many of them were written by Uthman dan Fodio and other jihad leaders who established and or ruled the Sokoto Caliphate (1804-1903), the largest Muslim state in West Africa during the nineteenth century. The colonial records include files from Secretariat Northern Provinces, provincial files, records from Divisional and District offices, court records, early colonial assessment and re-assessment reports, anthropological and special reports, official correspondence, agricultural reports, and reports on chieftaincy and religious matters. Overall, materials related to all states in what is today known as Northern Nigeria (Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, and Kwara, just to mention a few)can be found in National Archives Kaduna.

Page of writing.

EAP535/1/2/2/28 Infaqul maisuri vol. I (translated in Hausa) by Major Edgar, 1911. Handwritten Hausa document 

The importance of the collection at the National Archives Kaduna in the study of northern Nigerian history needs no stressing. The collection has received increasing recognition since 1957, and no serious scholar today can speak or write about any part of northern Nigeria without reference to this indispensable collection. Yet, a considerable part of the collection has simply been dumped on the floor; and most of the materials are in a bad state due partly to wear and tear of repeated use/deterioration.

Page of Arabic writing.

EAP535/1/2/16/4 Kitab arla'u-na hadi-than by B. Ulama-I, date unknown. Handwritten Arabic document 

EAP535 targeted endangered Arabic and Hausa manuscripts from the nineteenth century, as well as early colonial reports. The targeted materials deal with diverse topics including colonial policies, slavery, religion, labour, agriculture, and culture. The project yielded a number of positive results. First, it succeeded in creating an updated catalogue of 2,376 materials that focus on the pre-colonial and early colonial history of Northern Nigeria and on the aforementioned topics. Second, it digitised 62,177 items and deposited copies of all the digitised materials at the National Archives Kaduna and at the British Library. Third, as part of the project, I have a published book chapter based mainly on materials digitised in the course of EAP535. In the article, I introduced and analysed digitised colonial records dealing with convict labour in Northern Nigeria to draw more attention to the history of the prison system in Nigeria. In it, I also argue that there are clear connections between convict labour and the construction of European hegemony. Although I included some images I digitised in the course of EAP535 in my published article, the images included in this short piece are different from those in the article in question.

Page from the archive

EAP535/2/2/1/1 Cocoa cultivation-requesting encouragement to in N. Nigeria, 1902 

Mohammed Bashir Salau

Grant-holder for EAP535

Further reading

Salau, Mohammed Bashir, 2015. "Convict labour in early colonial Northern Nigeria: a preliminary study." In From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives, 293-329. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0052.16


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