The medium of ‘tradition’: Amadou Hampt B’s confrontations with languages, literacy, and colonialism

In his efforts to communicate his research on ‘African tradition’, more specifically oral texts, Hampt B was faced with a choice of languages and alphabets. Much of his work appeared only in French, the language of his main formal education and administrative training. In collaboration with several French colonial scholar-administrators (Henri Gaden, Colonel R. Figaret, and Gilbert Vieillard) Hampt B eventually developed a system for writing his native Fulfulde in Roman characters. However, for his own Fulfulde religious poetry (‘mes seules oeuvres de ‘cration”), Hampt B used Ajami (Arabic letters representing non-Arabic languages), a writing system that he also promoted as a medium of wider Fulbe literacy. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title:The medium of ‘tradition’: Amadou Hampt B’s confrontations with languages, literacy, and colonialism
Author: Austen, Ralph A.
Year:2010
Periodical: Islamic Africa (ISSN 2154-0993)
Volume:1
Issue:2
Pages:217-228
Language:English
Geographic term:West Africa
About person: Amadou Hampat B (1900-1991)
External link:http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/21540993-90000017
Abstract:In his efforts to communicate his research on ‘African tradition’, more specifically oral texts, Hampt B was faced with a choice of languages and alphabets. Much of his work appeared only in French, the language of his main formal education and administrative training. In collaboration with several French colonial scholar-administrators (Henri Gaden, Colonel R. Figaret, and Gilbert Vieillard) Hampt B eventually developed a system for writing his native Fulfulde in Roman characters. However, for his own Fulfulde religious poetry (‘mes seules oeuvres de ‘cration”), Hampt B used Ajami (Arabic letters representing non-Arabic languages), a writing system that he also promoted as a medium of wider Fulbe literacy. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]