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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Nana Asma'u, Her Elegies and the Possibility of 'Insider Alternatives'
Author:Merritt, Nikki
Periodical:African Languages and Cultures
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Subjects:Islamic history
Women's Issues
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Cultural Roles
About person:Nana Asma'u (1793-ca1864)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1771806
Abstract:Nana Asma'u (1793-1865), daughter of Usman dan Fodio, wrote prolifically and with considerable impact within the Islamic community of the Sokoto Caliphate. She was an eyewitness to the genesis and development of the jihad movement which imprinted Islam upon the Hausa culture of northern Nigeria in the beginning of the 19th century. Her poetry in Fulfulde, Arabic and Hausa provides a vivid insight into the thoughts and debates that occupied the jihad leadership. This article focuses on Asma'u's elegies and the ideas they contain with respect to women. The elegies represent a model of cultural interaction between the once alien Islamic religion and the existing Hausa society; this model of adaptation made it possible to propagate Islam as authentically Hausa. Outlining the highly standardized form of the elegies, the author shows that no gender distinctions are made in them. Admirable characteristics are ascribed equally to men and women, and for both sexes, death is presented as a journey, a commonplace of Hausa religious verse. Asma'u may be seen as an ancestor of women who seek empowerment within Islam, founder of a tradition of 'insider alternatives'. Bibliogr., ref.