Prof. Xavier Luffin teaches Arabic language and Literature at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. His research focuses on the Arabic Literature produced in Africa (Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Somalia) as well as on the representations of the Africans in the Arabic Literature as a whole. His PhD dissertation was on Kinubi, an Arabic Creole spoken in Uganda and Kenya.
- Arabic Literacy in Africa: Arabic script was widely used in some parts of Africa before the arrival of the Europeans, in various fields: education, political and commercial correspondence, literature, etc. The best known case is Timbuktu and his libraries hosting thousands of Arabic manuscripts, however Arabic script has been used in many other parts of Africa, and not only in West Africa. Arabic script has also been used to write African languages, like Fulani, Hausa, Swahili, Somali, etc.
The aim of this course is to give a global vision of the Arabic manuscript tradition in Africa, with a focus on East and Central Africa (Swahili and Arabic documents from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Congo and Mozambique), and to see what was the impact of the use of the Arabic script on the local cultures and political systems: commercial development, political use, literature, etc.
- Arabic Literature of Africa: Authors coming from North Africa but also from Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Mali and Chad write poetry and fiction in Arabic. They often tackle the debate about the African and the Arabic identity in their countries, especially in Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia, and are inspired by their national context, introducing new trends and new themes in the Arabic literature. Though the French and the English literature of Africa is well-known today, this Arabic literature of Africa is almost ignored outside of the Arab world, and really deserves to be studied in Africa, beside the literary production in other languages.
- African Epics and its Relationship with Islam: the first part of the course is an introduction to the Arabic Epic tradition (Antara, Bani Hilal, etc.) of North Africa (including Mali, Nigeria and Sudan) and its interaction with Africa (the presence of African heroes in most of the epics, the representations of Africa, etc); the second part focuses on the changes introduced by Islam in some West African epics, and on the birth of ‘Islamic’ epics in West Africa (some Fulani and Wolof epics, like Al-Hajj Omar Epic) and in East Africa (Swahili epics, like Utenzi wa Tambuka).