Sub-Saharan Centres of Learning

Sub-Saharan Centres of Learning

Though we may think of Timbuktu as the pre-eminent site of pre-colonial West African scholarship, we must remember that there were other places spanning across the Western and Central Sudan that were renowned for their tradition of teaching.

One such place was the capital city of the Kanem Bornu state, Birni Gazargamu. This first great centre of Islamic learning in Central Sudan produced such outstanding figures as Idris Alooma, the pioneering 16th century mai (King) who improved governance and infrastructure. A scholar himself, he funded scholarship and the copying of sacred books. An earlier product of this stimulating aura was Ibrahim al-Kanemi, the first known Sub-Saharan writer (12th century) to have written in Arabic.

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