ArtistWest African (Nigerian; Ghanaian; Ivoirian; Burkinabe )
DimensionsWork : 25 3/4 x 13 1/8 x 5/8 in. (65.41 x 33.34 x 1.59 cm)
Credit LineGift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
The Hausa are a large ethnic group living primarily in northern Nigeria and southern Niger. They have been followers of Islam for more than a thousand years and use a modified form of Arabic script to express and record their spoken language. The ability to keep written records has benefitted the Hausa politically and economically over the centuries and has helped them preserve their rich traditions of poetry, prose and music. In traditional Hausa culture, education was offered mainly to male children from affluent families. Those boys would learn to read and write by copying passages from the Qu’ran, the holy book of the Islamic faith, onto a wooden board that could be wiped clean at the end of the lesson. Once the boys mastered the basic letters and grammar of the Qu’ran, they could use their literacy to address a wider range of subjects in Hausa life and culture.