The Arabic Script in Africa

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Muhammed Haron

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Abstract

The Arabic script’s flexible and adaptive nature has made it a significant
contributor to Africa’s rich and vibrant socio-linguistic landscape. This has
been noted by major scholars in the field, among them John Hunwick
(director-general, Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa,
Northwestern University, USA) and Helmi Sharawi (Centre for Arabo-
African Studies, Egypt). Meikal Mumin, a young German-Somali scholar
who completed his M.A. at the University of Cologne’s Institute for African
Studies on the use of the Arabic script in Africa, solicited funds from the
Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, as well as the necessary moral support from the
above-mentioned institute, to host a workshop on this topic. Entitled “Arabic
Script in Africa,” it was held at the University of Koln’s Institute for African
Studies during 6-7 April 2010. Mumin regarded this event as the first of its
kind on German soil to dealt with the “linguistic aspects of the usage and diffusion
of the Arabic script in Africa for the writing of African languages, a
phenomenon also known as Ajami.” The assembled scholars investigated,
among other concerns, linguistic, sociolinguistic, and historical processes as
well as applied language policy for certain African languages ...

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