Newly cataloged Ethiopic MSS at Yale’s Beinecke Library

With no small amount of assistance from Steve Delamarter of George Fox University and the Ethiopian Manuscript Imaging Project (EMIP), a set of about thirty Ethiopian manuscripts have begun to receive enhanced cataloging in the Yale Library online catalog.  Any errors or omissions are strictly my own.  To find them, simply point your browser to Yale’s Quicksearch (, and perform a call number search for the terms ‘ethiopic’ and ‘beinecke’.  You should have a result set of the thirty-three manuscripts covered by this project, a little out of order, and with a couple of minor gaps in the numbering sequence.  Some of these date to as early as the 17th century; included are a computus and a synaxarium.  Full digitization has not yet been undertaken for this set, although you can find in the Beinecke’s digital collections images of the cases of Ethiopic MSS 5, 29 and 30, and imagery of Ethiopic MSS 28, a scroll, the text of which has been digitized.

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የእኔ የታክሲ ሾፌር ኢትዮጵያ ከ ነበር.

እኔ ደግሞ ከዚህ ጠዋት ከኢትዮጵያ ቡና ጽዋ ነበረው.  እኔ ቀስ የአማርኛ ቋንቋ የበለጠ በመማር ነኝ.  እኔ መዝግቦ ለማሻሻል እፈልጋለሁ.  ይህን ለመረዳት አስቸጋሪ ነው.  እኔ ጥረት ይበልጥ ውጤታማ እንዲሆን አደርጋለሁ.

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The UDHR in the Adlam script of the Fula people

We now have a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights typed in the newly invented Adlam script of the Fula people; this was generously produced and provided by Boubacar Diallo of Grand Dakar, Senegal:  UDHR Adlam Pulaar.  Enjoy!

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The UDHR in the invented Shü-mom language, in the A-ka-u-ku script of the Bamum people

Thanks to the effort of Kapu Njikam Abdel Ramadan, in work sponsored by Athinkra, LLC, we now have a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights translated into the Shü-mom language of the Bamum people of Cameroon, using its indigenous script known as “A-ka-u-ku”.  This translation has yet to be typed in, but will soon join the other 502 translations that exist.  We are happy to post it here.

Update:  I received a report that this is not actually in the Shü-mom language, but in another language using the A-ka-u-ku script.  This will take a little more analysis; I’ll be happy to report more once we’ve got it figured out. 1234567891011121314


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ALC at Northwestern

It was a pleasure to attend the Africana Librarians Council meeting in Evanston last week, hosted by the Herskovits Library at Northwestern University. Pippa Skotnes was a featured speaker; some of her unique work can be seen here: Souleymane Bachir Diagne also gave a lecture after the conference that some of us were able to attend. We were treated to a tour of the Center for Research Libraries and discussed microfilming newspapers from Malawi and Ethiopia.  Dinner on Thursday night was hosted by Shoshanah Seidman.  It was nice to see the John Hunwick collection getting processed at the Herskovits. All around, a thought-provoking experience, culminating with a dinner at the Ethiopian Diamond II in Rogers Park.  Thanks to our colleagues Esmeralda Kale, David Easterbrook, Marcia Tiede, Gene Kannenberg, Jr., Shoshanah, Paul Burley, Shelley Morrison, Florence Mugambi, Judy Eckoff Alspach, Bethany Bates, and James Simon for hosting.

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“The Odyssey of Ajami…”

Yale Library was host to a talk by Dr. Fallou Ngom of Boston University last Thursday.  The talk was well-attended, and co-sponsored by the Standing Committee on Professional Awareness, the Yale African Students Association, and the Yale Muslim Students Association.  Dr. Ngom touched on many aspects of the use of Ajami, or modified Arabic script, as it relates to African languages as diverse as Afrikaans, Malagasy, Hausa, and Wolof.  He covered material found in his book, published by Oxford University Press, “Muslims Beyond the Arab World”.

There were three manuscripts of particular interest that he brought up; one in Wolof and two written in Mandinka.  The Wolof poem is from a period between 1912 and 1927, by Mbaye Diakhaté, entitled “In the Name of Your Quills and Ink”, found in the British Library’s Endangered Archives collection 334.  Dr. Ngom played an audio recording of the poem and provided a full transcription.  One of the Mandinka manuscripts dates to the 1940’s and is a curse against Hitler, rendered as “Ikleer”–something like “إکلںڔ”, although my rendering of this here is only a rough attempt.  The actual image from the text is:  ikleer

Another Mandinka manuscript turned up on a search of the Harvard catalog; it’s not covered in Dr. Ngom’s book but it is apparently an incantation that dates to 1789.

Many interesting questions were posed afterward, including one about the need for a romanization table to process these texts, and one about the prevalence of Koranic schools relative to public schools teaching in French in regions of Senegal and Mali.

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Further documentation on the Loma language and script

Balla Koevogui, an intrepid taxicab driver and former elementary school teacher who lives in West Haven, returned to his home country of Guinea earlier this year for a visit and picked up some documents relating to the Loma language and script.  I am posting them here for the convenience of fellow researchers.

Loma Script Narrative


Loma Text with video of its reading here.







Update #1:  While one of the 1940’s-era Loma texts has been transcribed and partially translated (“Loma Text”, above), two more have surfaced from the same source that are as yet untranscribed and untranslated.  I am posting them here in case anyone wants to start deciphering them.

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Coordinator: Margaret W. Hughes, Africana Librarians Council, Cataloging Committee

This report covers the period from Nov. 2015 to Oct. 2016.  Since the last report 5 new and 10 revised subject heading proposals were reviewed by funnel participants and submitted to the Library of Congress. The proposals originated with Margaret Hughes (Stanford), Joe Lauer (Michigan State), Peter Limb (Michigan State), Janet Stanley (Smithsonian), and Marcia Tiede (Northwestern).


Afo (African people) –> Afo (Nigerian people)

Attie language

Bafo (African people)

Congo (Brazzaville)—History—Coup d’état, 1968

Felup (African people) –> Jola-Felupe (African people)

Fon (African people)

Janjanbureh Island (Gambia)

Mankanya language

Margi language –> Marghi language

Okiek language

Proverbs, Ashanti – deleted in lieu of: Proverbs, Twi

Rudolf, Lake (Kenya and Ethiopia) –> Turkana, Lake (Kenya and Ethiopia)

Tuki language

Ubuntu (Philosophy)

Wumbvu language


Ajatado (African people)                [see:

Berber languages                            [see:

Cental Atlas Tamazight language [see:

Karon (African people)    [see:

Tsotsitaal languages        [see:


Indigenous peoples—South Africa; Indigenous peoples—Angola; Blacks—South Africa; Blacks—Angola

“These proposals were made to deprecate the headings Indigenous peoples—South Africa and Indigenous peoples—Angola in favor of Blacks—South Africa and Blacks—Angola, respectively.

Blacks is an ethnic group and Indigenous peoples is a class of persons. Although the indigenous peoples of South Africa and Angola are indeed black, the two headings are not synonymous.  The heading Blacks refers to blacks as an element of the population, and when a country is predominantly black – as South Africa and Angola are – it is used only for works that discuss blacks apart from other groups in the country. Indigenous peoples, meanwhile, is defined as “the aboriginal inhabitants either of colonial areas or of modern states where the aboriginal peoples are not in control of the government” (see the scope notes for Blacks and Indigenous peoples).

The heading Indigenous peoples is valid for works about the colonial period in each country, as well as works about apartheid-era South Africa. It is not valid for works about post-1975 Angola and post-1994 South Africa.  The heading Blacks is valid for works about blacks as a distinct element of the population during any time period, and particularly those works that discuss the group from an ethnological, anthropological, socio-economic, etc., viewpoint.

A review of LC’s database showed that the headings are generally applied correctly.

The meeting recognizes that some general headings for the indigenous peoples of the Americas (e.g., Indians of Central America) have a UF in the form Indigenous peoples—[place], thereby conflating ethnic groups and classes of persons. That exceptional practice will be resolved as a separate issue.

The proposals were not approved because the deprecated headings are not synonymous with those proposed as replacements.”


The following authority records have been deleted because the subject headings are covered by identical name headings: Amon (Egyptian deity), Aten (Egyptian deity), Horus (Egyptian deity).

The scope notes for “diaspora” headings have been revised following the pattern for African diaspora:

African diaspora    [Not Subd Geog]    [sp 91005631 ]
SA headings of the type Africans–[place] or Blacks–[place] DELETE FIELD
Here are entered works dealing with the dispersion of Black Africans to countries outside of the African Continent. DELETE FIELD

Here are entered works dealing with the movement of Black Africans to countries outside of the African Continent. For works on Black Africans who have settled outside Africa, an additional heading is assigned to designate the place where they have settled, e.g., Africans–Germany; Blacks–Central America. ADD FIELD


Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings: Monthly Lists for Nov. 2015-Oct. 2016

The submitting library’s MARC21 code appears after each entry.

African drama (Portuguese) – DLC

Algeria—Social conditions—1830-1962 – CSt

Almanacs, Algerian – DLC

Almanacs, Berber – DLC

Art, Cham-Mwana – NN

Art, Gambian – DLC

Art, Rwandan – DLC

Authors, Equatorial Guinean – Uk

Bandjoun literature – CSt

Bi’r Minayh Site (Egypt) – UkCU

Cham-Mwana (African people) – NN

Collage, Algerian – DLC

Coups d’état—Congo (Brazzaville) – DLC

Creative nonfiction, African (English) – CaOONL

Cufada Lake (Guinea-Bissau) – IEN

Diouboye (Extinct city) – IEN

Dramatists, Nigerien – IEN

Drawing, Ivoirian – DLC

Duala (African people) – CSt

Egyptians in literature – DLC

Enya language – DLC

Folk literature, Bandjoun – CSt

Folk literature, West African – CSt

Foreign workers, Mauritian – CSt

Gadabano (African people) – DLC

Gambian fiction (English) – WaU

Gambian literature (English) – DLC

Gawwada language – CSt

Gutazar (African people) – DLC

Habbānīyah (Arab tribe) – DLC

Hawwārah (Berber people) – DLC

Ibani (African people) – CSt

Jewish cooking—Moroccan style – CSt

Karon language – CSt

Kukele language – InFwCT

Lesothan fiction (English) – WaU

Love poetry, Tamashek – DLC

Madagascar—History—1992- –> Madagascar—History—1992-2010 – IEN

Madagascar—History—2010- – IEN

Madagascar—Politics and government—1992- –> Madagascar—Politics and government—1992-2010 – IEN

Madagascar—Politics and government—2010-  – IEN

Mahé Island (Seychelles) – WaU

Mālikīyah (Berber tribe) – DLC

Motion picture plays, South African (English) – WaU

Nama poetry – DLC

National characteristics, Angolan – DGPO

National characteristics, Botswanan – DGPO

National characteristics, Burkinabe – DGPO

National characteristics, Djiboutian – DGPO

National characteristics, Gabonese – DGPO

National characteristics, Guinea-Bissauan – DLC

National characteristics, Guinea-Bissauan, in literature – DLC

National characteristics, Nigerien – DGPO

National characteristics, Rwandan – DGPO

National characteristics, Tanzanian – DGPO

National characteristics, Ugandan – DGPO

Ndonga poetry – DLC

Okande (African people) – CSt

Political prisoners’ writings, Moroccan (French) – WaU

Pottery, Cham-Mwana – DLC

Pottery, Nigerian – DLC

Proto-Central Chadic language – UkOxU

Proverbs, Kakwa – CSt

Proverbs, Nubian – CLU

Rawḍ ‘Ā’id Wadi (Egypt) – UkCU

Réserve naturelle de Tsingy du Namoroka (Madagascar) – IEN

Rokel River (Sierra Leone) – IEN

Rokel River Watershed – IEN

Satire, Tamazight – CLU

Short stories, Botswanan (English) – WaU

Short stories, Gambian (English) – WaU

Short stories, Lesothan (English) – WaU

Short stories, South Sudanese (English) – WaU

South Sudanese fiction (English) – WaU

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Coordinator: Margaret W. Hughes, Africana Librarians Council, Cataloging Committee

This report covers the period from Nov. 2014 to Oct. 2015.  Since the last report 24 new and 29 revised subject heading proposals were reviewed by funnel participants and submitted to the Library of Congress. The proposals originated with Margaret Hughes (Stanford), Joe Lauer (Michigan State), Peter Limb (Michigan State), Chuck Riley (Yale), Janet Stanley (Smithsonian), and Marcia Tiede (Northwestern).


Abe language

Abidji language

Abure language

Adyukru language

Afade dialect –> Afade language

Afar language

Ahizi language

Alladian language

Ama language (Sudan)

Amaa (African people) –> Ama (African people)

Attie language

Bafo language

Borna language

Cross River Mbembe language

Ebrié (African people)

Ébrié Lagoon (Côte d’Ivoire)

Ebrié language

Eleme language

Gambai dialect –> Ngambay language

Guineans (Guinea-Bissauans)

/Hua language

Isoko language

Jarbah Island (Tunisia) –> Jerba Island (Tunisia)

Kambari languages

Kamberi (African people) –> Kambari (African people)

Kébé-kébé (Dance)

Kotoko dialects –> Kotoko languages

Kru languages

Kyak (African people)

Lagwan language

Laka language (Central Sudanic)

Logooli language

Mambai language (Cameroon and Chad)

Mawri (African people)

Mbula language (Nigeria)

Meta language (Cameroon)

Mmen language

Moghamo language

Ngwo language (Cameroon)

Niger—History—Coup d’état, 2010

Okiek (African people)

Punu language

Sama (Angolan people)

Saxwe Gbe language

Sidamo language

Sudanese Creole Arabic language

Sundi (African people) –> Suundi (African people)

Suundi language

Tigon Mbembe language

Tsikimba language

!Xõ language

Zarma (African people)

Zarma dialect –> Zarma language


The funnel is still working with LC on a project to change several “Bantu” headings, such as Bantu art, Bantu law, Bantu mythology and Bantu philosophy.  Use of the word “Bantu” is problematic.

The funnel coordinator spoke with Janis Young at ALA and she too shares our concern regarding the difference (if any) between diaspora headings versus headings constructed as [Ethnic group]—Foreign countries.  PSD will look into it.


Ajatado (African people)                [see:

Bafo (African people)                     [see:

Berber languages                            [see:

Cental Atlas Tamazight language [see:

Okiek language                 [see:

Proverbs, Ashanti             [see:

Tsotsitaal languages        [see:


Africa, Central: proposal to modify scope note      [see:

Africa, English-speaking Central: proposal to establish [see:

Bantu-speaking peoples: proposal to add scope note & disallow geographic subdivision [see:

Lagoon languages: proposal to delete [see:

Sudanese Arabic language: proposal to establish [see:



Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings: Monthly Lists for Nov. 2014-Oct. 2015

The submitting library’s MARC21 code appears after each entry.

Art, Lesothan – DLC

Art, Sudanese – DLC

Art, Swazi – DLC

Authors, Beninese – CSt

Burundian literature (French) – DLC

Cameroonian diaspora – IEN

Cameroonians—Migrations – DLC

Creole dialects, Arabic—South Sudan – DLC

Dadès River Valley (Morocco) – DLC

Deserts—Algeria – DLC

Deserts—Tunisia – DLC

Didactic drama, Swahili – IEN

Djibouti—Languages – DLC

East Africans – VaVbRU

Ethiopia—History—Attempted coup, 1989 – DLC

Fashion—African influences – IEN

Folk drama, Mambila – FU

Folk literature, Burkinabe – IEN

Fuliru language –> Fuliiru language – DLC

Grand Erg Occidental (Algeria) – DLC

Grand Erg Oriental (Algeria and Tunisia) – DLC

Hodna Plain (Algeria) – DLC

Hymns, Fula – FU

Lagoons—Côte d’Ivoire – DLC

Love stories, African (English) –> Romance fiction, African (English) – DLC

Love stories, Ghanaian (English) –> Romance fiction, Ghanaian (English) – DLC

Love stories, Hausa –> Romance fiction, Hausa – DLC

Love stories, Nigerian (English) –> Romance fiction, Nigerian (English) – DLC

Love stories, South African –> Romance fiction, South African – DLC

Love stories, Tanzanian (English) –> Romance fiction, Tanzanian (English) – DLC

Love stories, Ugandan (English) –> Romance fiction, Ugandan (English) – DLC

Love stories, Zimbabwean (English) –> Romance fiction, Zimbabwean (English) – DLC

Magaliesberg (South Africa) – DLC

Mahoran literature (French) – DLC

Makay Mountain (Madagascar) – DLC

Mali—History—Tuareg Rebellion, 2012- —Campaigns – DLC

Mambila drama – DLC

Mambila literature – DLC

Marghād (Berber tribe) – DLC

Men, Maasai – TNJ

Mgeta River (Tanzania) – MiEM

Mountains—Madagascar – DLC

Mythology, San – IEN

National characteristics, Burundian – IEN

National monuments—Nigeria – DLC

N’Djamena, Battle of, N’Djamena, Chad, 2008 – IEN

Operation Serval, 2013-2014 – IEN

Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (Oshogbo, Nigeria) – IEN

Paranormal fiction, Congolese (Brazzaville) (French) – IEN

Parc national de Birougou (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de la Lopé (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de Loango (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de Mayumba (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de Minkébé (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de Moukalaba-Doudou (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national de Waka (Gabon) – CSt

Parc national des plateaux Batéké (Gabon) – CSt

Peacekeeping forces, Ghanaian – IEN

Posters, Algerian – Uk

Proverbs, Guro – DLC

Proverbs, Kabyle – CSt

Proverbs, Nupe – CSt

Riddles, Yoruba – IEN

Rwandan literature (English) – CLU

Rwandan poetry (English) – CLU

Sacred groves—Nigeria – DLC

Sand dunes—Algeria – DLC

Sand dunes—Tunisia – DLC

Sculpture, Ghanaian – IEN

Short stories, Togolese (French) – DLC

Speeches, addresses, etc., African – CSt

Speeches, addresses, etc., Angolan – CSt

Speeches, addresses, etc., Ivoirian – CSt

Talking drum – CaStSMF

Talking drum music – CaStSMF

Tel el-Kebir, Battle of, Egypt, 1882 – Uk

Yoruba (African people)—Migrations – DLC

Yoruba diaspora – IEN










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New England Code4Lib presentation

I recently gave a lightning talk at Hampshire College during the New England Code4Lib meeting on the progress of Unicode implementation in the Yale library catalog, with reference to African scripts.  Here are the slides from that presentation:  unicode-implementation-in-the-yale-catalog.  Enjoy!  I’ll be happy to provide more details and documentation on request.

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