Shamil Jeppie presented at the seminar in Art and Material Culture of Africa and the African Diaspora on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Books and Exile in the Sahara.”

Books have a longer history in West Africa and the Sahara than has been acknowledged until recently. A culture of writing and reading was firmly established in Timbuktu by the fifteenth century, and books were among the objects that moved with trading caravans across the Sahara. Against this background, this lecture will examine a case of reading and writing by an exile, the scholar Ahmad Bābā from Timbuktu, in Marrakesh in the 1590s.

Shamil Jeppie teaches history at the University of Cape Town, where he also established the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in the early 2000s to research the book culture in Timbuktu and the broader region. The volume The Meanings of Timbuktu (2008; French translation 2011) brought together work by outside scholars, local experts, and collectors and provided many images of individual texts. Jeppie is completing a general introduction to the book provisionally titled Timbuktu: Desert Scholars and Collectors. Apart from this area of work, he has written on aspects of South African urban social history and is involved in Africa-wide and South-South humanities networks. He was educated in Cape Town and Princeton.