Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino
The literacy base of the Hausa of northern Nigeria was established with their Islamic scholastic tradition dating back to 15th century. This saw the domestication of the Arabic script as localized Ajami script and which was used as a literacy base for hundreds of years. However, British colonialism from 1903 to 1910 stunted this local initiative and forced Roman alphabet on Muslim Hausa. Nevertheless, using their antecedent literacy base, it became easy to re-adapt the Roman alphabet to modern writing in prose, drama, poetry, government gazette, assembled proceeding and religious writings. This was further facilitated by the emergence of private publishing outfits since 1979 that accelerated the production of locally produced reading materials. This created a whole range of readers’ clubs and writers’ associations, as well as “commercial libraries”. A strong force in the process is mediated by gender, where women became the predominant consumers of the literacy drive, especially in prose fiction and academic books.
This presentation shows how the removal of state patronage in the 1970’s, gave room to vernacular creative fiction and academic books private publishers such as GidanDabino Publishers, who perhaps produced the volumes of vernacular literacy materials (drama, poetry, and prose texts) and a genre of academic books as well as informative (newspapers and magazines), political campaign materials and entertainment industry (Hausa home video films) writing in Africa south of the Sahara. It therefore deals with the political economy of literary production under severe economic conditions to create a literacy base among African youth.