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A Fragment of the “Barth Archive”: The Letter of Recommendation of Aḥmad al-Bakkāy to the Fodiawa of Sokoto

Mauro Nobili, Mohamed Diagayeté


Pages 217 - 243

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/GG.1.1.217




A FRAGMENT OF THE “BARTH ARCHIVE”: THE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION OF AḤMAD AL-BAKKĀY TO THE FODIAWA OF SOKOTO

The article focuses on a letter written by Aḥmad al-Bakkāy, the Kunta shaykh of Timbuktu, to the rulers of the Sokoto Caliphate on behalf of Heinrich Barth in 1853. The letter, which recommended the German traveller to the rulers’ protection and hospitality, illustrates the extraordinary nature of the archive produced by Barth’s visit to Aḥmad al-Bakkāy in Timbuktu, which comprises exceptionally numerous handwritten and printed sources in multiple languages. The authors provide a transcription and English translation of this Arabic letter, they explore its historical context, and conceptualise the “Barth Archive” as the result of what is understood here as an imperial encounter.



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