Pilot project for endangered Arabic manuscripts in Ivory Coast (EAP915)

Aims and objectives

This project will identify endangered manuscripts from different regions of the Ivory Coast in order to establish a detailed list about their condition and their locations. The main objective will be to create an inventory of manuscripts held in family libraries as well as to digitise a sample of these records with the aim of starting the groundwork to carry out a major project in the future.

These documents are held by families, mainly in the three regions of Bondoukou, Mankono, and Bouake and Kong, as well as other towns. These documents are kept in very poor conditions, often found in boxes and kept in people's homes where the climate does not provide optimal conditions, leading to their deterioration. The project will carry out research to determine the location and owners of these records and once suitable documents are identified their information will be recorded to create a register of them. This should allow an overall assessment of condition of the libraries to develop a more comprehensive conservation plan.

The location of some of the documents have been identified in Paul Marty’s book ‘Study on Islam in Ivory Coast 1922’ pp274-275, in which he talks about native libraries in most places of the country which contain some manuscripts and works in Arabic. He was writing specifically about cities such as Tengrela, Odienne, Touba and Mankono. Similarly Jean-Louis Triaud writes about two Arabian-Islamic libraries in Ivory Coast at the beginning of the 20th century. He makes it clear that there are two libraries in Mankono town owned by Alimamou Fofana and Saidou Karamoko. In his article published in the Institut Francais du Proche-Orient’s 2013 book ‘Les non-dits du nom. Onomastique et documents en terres d’Islam’, he has listed 324 manuscripts in his introduction. In addition to these manuscripts it is hoped that research will enable the discovery of more manuscripts in further locations.


Manuscripts were identified in Mankono and Bondoukou and also in Bouna. In the end we found 807 manuscripts. These manuscripts have been divided in three categories: in good state, some with pages deteriorated and unreadable. We have also listed and given details about all the manuscripts found in each region. For more information please read the survey.