Molins Lliteras, Susana. “ ‘Africa starts in the Pyrenees:’ The Fondo Kati, between al-Andalus and Timbuktu.” PhD Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2015.

This dissertation—inserting itself into the disciplines of book and archive history—presents a biography of the Fondo Kati archive, one of the many private family libraries that have surfaced in Timbuktu in recent years, and which has positioned itself apart from other libraries due to its claim to a unique historical heritage linked to al-Andalus.  Analysing both oral material, but especially the written marginalia found on the manuscripts of the collection—up to now unavailable and unstudied by scholars—this study treats the Fondo Kati itself as a historical subject, examining both its conditions of production as well as how its existence has in turn affected the context in which it finds itself. The Fondo Kati archive as it currently stands was fashioned according to the vision of its director, Ismael Diadié Haidara.  It is built upon two cornerstones: the genealogical project—the claim to uninterrupted “originally” Spanish or Visigothic ancestry for the Kati family—and the project of the marginalia—the archive as a family collection, built by generations of family members, each adding manuscripts and marginalia to the collection.  The fundamental imbrication of the oral and the written in the Fondo Kati, represented by the repeated appeal to the genealogy of the Kati family as a source of differentiation and its marginalia as written “evidence,” are also the central features of the Fondo Kati that propelled the successful reception and circulation of the collection in present-day Spain. The dissertation also raises questions around the authenticity of the marginalia, in terms of their dates of production and authorship.  It concludes that, ultimately, the forgery in the Fondo Kati is about historical evidence, about providing textual, written proofs of a past, that may or may not have had existed, or existed only in oral family traditions. The Fondo Kati is a perfect example of how knowledge is constructed, of a researcher’s intrinsically partial access to the past.  In the final instance, the very act of construction of the Kati collection is an active intervention in the production of history.

Suleiman, Samaila. "The Nigerian history machine and the production of Middle Belt historiography."  PhD Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2015. 

While existing studies on Nigerian historiography cover renowned historians, major historical writings and prominent historiographical traditions, there is hardly any exploration of the institutional processes and concrete circumstances within which historical knowledge is produced. Deploying a range of sources, from in-depth personal interviews - with historians, archivists, museum curators and publishers of history texts - archival research to museum displays, this thesis examines the production of history and the socio-political tensions and conflicts associated with it in postcolonial Nigeria. Specifically, it explores the linkages between Nigerian history as a discursive practice and the institutions where historical knowledge is produced such as history departments, archives, museums and the publishers of history and scholarly texts. I see these processes as a kind of "history machine", defined as the interconnected system of social technologies through which the Nigerian state defines the discursive limits of the nation by appropriating, packaging and relaying discrete ethnic histories as Nigerian history in specific national cultural institutions such as archives and museums. But it is not robotic or a centrally run machine. The Nigerian history machine, originally activated as a nationalist intellectual mechanism against colonialist historiography in the wake of decolonization, broke down into a multitude of regional compartments in the postcolonial period, leading to the proliferation of "extranational" discourses in areas like the Middle Belt region. The practices of collecting, organizing, classifying, naming and appropriating discrete cultural symbols activates, as much it silences, the voices of certain communities. Each site of production strives, ostensibly, to produce Nigerian history, retaining and concealing the distinctive historical repertoires of each constituent ethnic community as they go through the history machine. In the process certain communities were ostracized to which they responded by manufacturing their local histories against the institutional representation of their pasts in History Departments, National Archives and National Museums. Through a textual analysis of the writings of historians and other scholars of Middle Belt extraction, this study posits that the textual tradition of the Middle Belt historiography is animated by a discourse of marginality and resistance to the dominant interpretations of northern Nigerian history and historiography, an epistemic struggle by the minorities to reassert their "historical patrimony" or reclaim their "historical dignity" through the creation of projects that highlight their historical past.


Mutiua, Chapane. "Ajami Literacy, class, and Portuguese pre-colonial administration in Northern Mozambique." MA Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2014. 

This thesis, based on archival and fieldwork research, provides a historical analysis of the northern Mozambique ajami manuscripts held in the Mozambique Historical Archives (AHM). The main focus is on the role played by ajami literacy in the creation of a local Muslim intellectual class that played a significant role in the establishment of a Portuguese pre-colonial administration in northern Mozambique. The history of Islam in northern Mozambique is viewed as a constant struggle against the Portuguese establishment in the region. Through an examination of ajami correspondence held in the AHM and focusing on two of the main northern Mozambique Swahili centres of the nineteenth century (Quissanga and Sancul), this thesis offers a more nuanced interpretation of the relations between the Portuguese and the Swahili Muslim rulers of the region. On the one hand, it views Quissanga-Ibo Island relations based on systematic and relatively loyal collaboration expressed in more than two hundred letters found in the collection of AHM. On the other hand, it presents Sancul-Mozambique Island relations based on ambiguous collaboration and constant betrayals, expressed in forty letters of the collection. The AHM ajami manuscripts collection numbers a total of 665 letters which were first revealed in the context of the pilot study of northern Mozambique Arabic Manuscripts, held in the Mozambique Historical Archives, under the leadership of Professors Liazzat Bonate and Joel Tembe. The pilot study ended with the selection, translation and transliteration of sixty letters from this collection. For the present study, I have read, summarised and translated the whole collection (excluding the 60 letters mentioned above). However, only 266 letters which are more relevant for the analysis and argument of my thesis, I have listed in the appendix of this dissertation; and nine of them I have closely examined and cited as the main sources for the construction of local history and as documentary witness of the historical facts I discuss. The use of ajami literacy in northern Mozambique is analysed in the context of global and regional phenomena. In this sense, it is viewed as a result of a longue duré process which integrated the region into the western Indian Ocean’s cultural, political and economic dynamics. It is argued that the spread of ajami literacy in the region was framed in the context of regional Islamic education and an intellectual network. Both were also part of the process of expansion of Islam in East Africa. xiQuissanga (in Cabo Delgado) and Sancul (in Nampula) represent the two main regional settlements from which most of the manuscripts originated. The ruling elites of both regions represent suitable examples of the integration of northern Mozambique into the Swahili political, economic and intellectual networks. They also offer examples of two different dynamics of the process of integration of northern Mozambique rulers into the Portuguese pre-colonial administration. Through an analysis of the spread of Islamic education and the use of Arabic script in the above-mentioned region, this thesis sought to establish the connection of coastal societies in northern Mozambique to the Swahili world (most specifically to Comoros Islands, Zanzibar and western Madagascar). It was through this connection that the Muslim intellectual class was created in northern Mozambique and played an important intermediary role in the process of the establishment of the Portuguese administration in the second half of the nineteenth century. Through their correspondence and reports, this local intellectual elite produced a body of manuscripts in Kiswahili and other local languages (in the Arabic script), which are now an important source for the history of the region.


Mathee, Mohamed Shaid. "Muftîs and the women of Timbuktu: history through Timbuktu's Fatwās, 1907-1960."  PhD Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2011.

This dissertation is about the social history of Timbuktu during the colonial era (1894-1960). This dissertation, firstly, takes fatwās from Timbuktu's archives as its historical source, a source the aforementioned scholars paid very little attention to or consciously ignored. Although fatwās are legal documents, this dissertation shows that fatwās are a historical source. Secondly, it looks at the history of ordinary men and women in their everyday lives.


Jappie, Saarah. “From madrasah to museum: a biography of the Islamic manuscripts of Cape Town.” MA Dissertation, Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town, 2011.

This paper focuses on the Islamic manuscripts of Cape Town, locally referred to as kietaabs, written by Muslims predominantly in the 19th century, in jawi (Arabic-Malay) and Arabic-Afrikaans. Inspired by the idea of a 'biography' of the archive and 'the social life of things', the study traces the life of the kietaabs, from their creation and original use, to their role in contemporary South African society, as objects of heritage and identity. It approaches the kietaabs as objects, emphasising their movements, status and use, rather than their content.

Moos, Ebrahiem. "The literary works of Shaykh Sîdî Al-Mukhtâr Al-Kuntî (d. 1811): a study of the concept and role of “miracles” in al-Minna fî I'tiqâd Ahl al-Sunna." MA Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2011.

This essay looks at the relationship between History and Myth in the literature of the grand shaykh of the Qâdiri Ṭarîqa of West Africa Shaykh al-Mukhtâr al-Kuntî (d.1811). It explores the role that "miracles" played in his society and how he dealt with this concept in his literary works. By looking at one of his major works, this study wishes to determine how he combined historical fact with myth and what the underlying reasons were for his approach. While the conclusion suggests that the Shaykh indeed employed myth within his writing it further shows how he used this mechanism to maintain a careful balance between his role as a traditional Islamic scholar and as a leader, thus strengthening his position as the head of the Kunta clan and the Qâdirî Ṭarîqa.


Bonate, Liazzat J K. "Traditions and transitions: Islam and chiefship in Northern Mozambique, ca. 1850-1974." PhD Thesis, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies, 2007.

This thesis is based on the archival and fieldwork research, and sheds light on the area which has been little studied or reflected in scholarly literature: Islam in Northern Mozambique. Its particular focus is on African Muslim leadership in Northern Mozambique, which has historically incorporated Islamic authority and chiefship. The link between Islam and the chiefly clans existed since the eight century when Islam made inroads into the northern Mozambican coast and became associated with the Shirazi ruling elites. With the involvement of the region in the international slave trade during the nineteenth century, the Shirazi clans secured alliances with the most powerful mainland chiefs through conquest and kinship relations in order to access supplies of slaves from the mainland. This process was accompanied by a massive expansion of Islam from the coast into the hinterland. The alliances between the Shirazi at the coast and the chiefdoms further into the interior resulted in a network of paramount chiefs and their subordinates making up the bulk of Muslim slave-raiders, who established the limits between themselves (the Maca, Muslims and 'civilized') and those to be enslaved (the Makua and Lomwe, derogatory terms, meaning savagery, i.e., 'non-Muslims' and 'uncivilized').