UMAR M. JABBI &USMAN A. DANIYA1
Scholars studying early Nigerian history have had recourse to oral source material as the only available and reliable source of writing History, neglecting a large pool of written source material in Arabic language. This utter neglect could be attributed to the fact that, most of our historians do not have a thorough grasp of Arabic language and most of the translations attempted by some European colonial officers were fraught with a lot of problems.
The paper reviewed the coming of Arabic language into the area and the emergence of indigenous scholars using Arabic language as their means of record keeping and sending messages. In addition, the major collection centres for Arabic manuscripts in Nigeria were identified. An outline of some very valuable Arabic materials that can further the study and research in Nigerian history is presented. The paper concluded that, to ensure the accessibility of Arabic historical writings to Nigerian students, there must be a conscious effort towards the incorporation of the study of Arabic language into the curriculum of Nigerian historians. This, it is believed could go a long way in providing information for the bridging of the chronological gaps in pre-colonial Nigerian history and thereby help in our effort to have a complete history of Nigeria.
KEY WORDS: Arabic manuscript, Arabic historical writings, Pre-colonial Nigerian history
History Department, Usman Dan Fodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria