Prof. Dr. Ahmed Shawqi Binebine presents a summary of the roles played by centres of learning, book repositories and the libraries in preserving the manuscript heritage of North Africa throughout the ages. He specifically focuses his attention on the Maghreb, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and countries of the Sub-Sahara. The work encompasses manuscripts written in the indigenous languages of the region, namely Arabic, Hausa, Swahili and those using Arabic script. The author presents a background on the presence of Arabic manuscripts in the region, their popularity and reasons behind the loss of great collections – to include theft, arson, wilful destruction and weathering. The author also details the characteristics of African manuscripts and materials used in their makeup, such as the paper, leather binding, types of script and writing tools such as the pens and the various ink types used. He also discusses the most important contributions made in indexing, preserving and restoring these manuscripts, with particular attention given to the academic work undertaken by the Al-Furqān Foundation in this field.
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