Establishment of the Centre
Establishment of the Centre came under the law in pursuance of section 1 (b), 3 (a) and 9 (a) and (b) of the University of Maiduguri Decree No 83 of 1979. The council made the following regulations for the establishment of the Centre for Trans-Saharan Studies.
- Subject to the approval by the Council of this regulation, the Centre shall come into operation with effect from 1st March, 1986.
- The Centre shall be a unit and an entity within the university system with continued existence and a common seal, unless otherwise decided by the council, and shall have the objective and functions assigned to it from time to time by the council.
- The Centre formally came into existence on 1st March, 1986 with approval of the University Council. A consultant was appointed by the University with effect from 10th March, 1986, in the person of Alhaji (Dr.) Hamidu Alkali, to bring the centre into reality. Prior to this date, from about the first week in February, 1986, there had been a number of sittings held between the Vice-Chancellor and the consultant designate after which proposals relating to the establishment of the centre and its objective and functions were worked out by the consultant designate and submitted to the Vice chancellor for the consideration of the appropriate university authorities.
It is, “to research into the societies and cultures of the central and western bilad-al-sudan, the central Saharan region, the Nile Valley and the Maghrib al-Aqsa”.
The centre, “focuses attention on those parts of Africa which it is believed have belonged to not only common cultures and common civilization, in varying degrees, but also common interest and common destiny, from whatever point of view one wishes to see them".
Objectives of the Centre
Each organization will have its objective and functions, clearly defined, without deviations or any ambiguities. Being a constituent part of the University of Maiduguri, the Centre’s objectives are as follows:
- To recover the past history of peoples, culture and civilization of the Trans- Saharan Area.
- To determine the effect and contribution of such cultures and civilization on the inhabitants of the area.
- To cause publicity to such recovery and findings for the advancement of learning.
Functions of the Centre
In pursuance of the provision of section (4) and subject to the approval of the university, the centre has the following functions,
- To accept or acquire from any person or group, any unpublished work which conforms to the standard and requirement of the centre.
- To cooperate with individual or groups in the society or authority or establishment for the acquisition of any valuable works.
- To establish and maintain a comprehensive depository for the preservation of manuscripts in all fields of learning relating to Western Sudan and Trans- Saharan area.
- To conduct studies and promote documentation and research in all manuscripts collected.
- To disseminate information through publication or otherwise of the results and findings of such documentation and research.
- Subject to the approval and or direction of the university to act in an advisory and consultative capacity on matters relating to documentation and research.
- To appreciate and or establish proposals, relationship with other Institution of similar discipline within and outside Nigeria.
- To organise conferences, Seminars and Workshops, hold lectures and conduct courses for the advancement of the objective of the centre.
- To lay down rules under which the centre may be used by Nigerians and others for the advancement of learning.
- Subject to the approval of the university, to accept, hold and administer any grant, donation, subscription or gift or property for any purpose in furtherance of the objectives of the centre.
- To carry out such other duties and responsibilities as may be necessary or expedient for the performance of the function of the centre.
Structural Organization of the Centre
The Centre consists of five units, namely, Administrative, Documentation, Translation and preservation, Research, Publication and Consultancy services; Accounts and General Services.
The Administration which will be under the administrative secretary will be responsible for establishment and services matters, meetings of Boards and committees and the preparation of Reports. Documentation, Translation and preservation Unit will be under a Co-ordinator, who should be a research fellow or above. It will be his responsibility to make adequate arrangement for all work relating to documentation. He should co-ordinate all translation work and be satisfied with method and system to be adopted for the preservation of manuscripts and other works, both in the comprehensive depository and in the archive. Research, publication and consultancy services will be headed by a person not below a research fellow. He should co-ordinate all research and publication activities of the Centre. He should be responsible for organising consultancy services, such as assisting private scholars to organise their libraries.
The Accounting unit will be under an accountant who will be responsible for all financial matters. An Assistant Registrar will be in charge of the general services which include organising conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures and arranging transport and reception for official visitors to the Centre.
Finally, there is an executive Board which is the governing body of the centre, with the Vice Chancellor as chairman. There is also an Academic Board with the Director of the Centre as chairman. The academic board will support committees to handle specific functions on its behalf, e.g. publication committee and general services committee.
Researh Projects (Past and On-going)
The Centre has performed exceptionally delivering research projects from every section of human endeavour, fortifying the academic excellence zeal of the institution. Since its establishment, the centre has had series of research proposals approved by the Management Board of the centre, among which are:
- History and development of Qur’anic Studies in Borno since the II century. Work on this project has started but not completed
- Biographical Dictionary of ‘’Ulama’’ in the Centre Bilad-al-Sudan since the 15th Century. Work on this project started through conference and proceeding was recently published.
- The Dufuna Canoe project. Work on the project was jointly pursued with the University of Frankfurt am Main Germany and monitored by the National Commission for museums and monuments has now reached a final stage
The Dufuna Canoe project casts new light on the prehistory of Borno. The history of water Transport in Africa clearly did not begin in the humid tropics or the GREAT EAST AFRICAN LAKES. This is one of the major scientific breakthroughs recorded by the centre in particular and the University in general. The project won the outstanding research project for this university at the National University Commission (NUC) Research Fair (NURESDEF) at Abuja in 2004.
- Two further research projects were approved.
- Documentation of ancient Kanem Borno capitals.
- Studies of ancient and abandoned settlements in Borno.
- Newly engendered research projects includes
- Linguistics Studies in the Trans-Saharan Region.
- Transportation and Trade routes in the Trans-Saharan Region.
- Prehistory of the Trans- Saharan Region.
- The abandoned and existing towns and villages in the Trans-Saharan Region.
Conferences, Workshops and Seminars
The centre either on its own or in-corporation with other institutions had organized a couple of National and International Conferences amongst which are;
- Joint Research project conference jointly organised by the centre and the University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany between 4th to 12th March, 2002 entitled ‘’Environmental and Cultural Dynamics in the West African Savannah’’
- The mega Tchad conference was held between 2nd - 9th December 2003 entitled "man and the lake". Mega Tchad conference is the biennial activity of Association of Mega Tchad, Paris,France, formed 24 years ago and its membership considered mainly of academics of disciplines, such as social Anthropology, Environmental Geography, History.
- Between 22nd and 24th June, 2004 an International Conference on Sahara: past, present and future, was held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom and was attended by a Research Fellow of the centre.
- The National Boundary Commission in conjunction with the centre and lake Chad Basin Commission envisage organising an International Conference of stake holders on Lake Chad Basin.
With the appointment of a new substantive Director for the Centre, after the demise of its former Director, Professor Mohammed Nur Alkali, the new Director set up in motion for the rejuvenation of the centre by drawing a time table for its workshops. The centre is set to host quarterly workshop. That the centre intended organising quaterly workshops within a year.
This was clearly shown on the 10th March, 2015 where the centre held its first quarterly workshop at its conference room, at 10:00 am. The theme of the workshop was titled
- "Internal Displacement and the political economy of coping mechanism in Borno State", paper presented by Dr. Mala Mustapha
- "Religious perspective of the North Eastern Scenario" by Professor T. El-Miskin
- "Peace Management perspective of the North eastern Scenario". By Professor Haruna Dlakwa
- "The role of Counselling in Alleviating Stressful Situation" by Professor Bulama Kagu.
An annual lecture series by eminent scholars was introduced since 1995. So far two lectures were held by Professor Yusuf Fadl Hassan of the University of Sudan on the relationship between central and Eastern Bilad Al Sudan. The second one was presented by Roger Blench: On the History of Food Crops and people of North Eastern Nigeria.
Recently, the centre published two proceedings resulting from conferences hosted by the centre and they are as follows:
- Impact of Ulama in the Central Bilad al-Sudan.
- State, City, society, and process of urbanisation.
- Man and the Lake.
Envisage conference proceedings to be published soon include the following:
- Ecology and Society in the history of the African Sahel and Savannah.
- Environmental and cultural Dynamics in the west African Savannah.
is the official Journal of the centre, beside other publications of the centre. It is conceived to publish empirical studies and research works on the cultural, Historical, Political, Economic, Religious questions relating to the Trans-Saharan area.
Borno, Sahara and Sudan Series (BSSS),
Studies in the humanities and social sciences have so far published seven volumes as follows:-
- Vol. I – R. Pured, Sirat Sayf Ibn Dhi Yazan. An Arabic Folk Epic.
- Vol. II – Kyari Mohammed, Borno in the Rabih years, 1983-1900
- Vol. III – Eva Rothmaler-Place names in Borno and Yobe States (Northern Nigeria).
- Vol. IV – Walter Konrad – People of the grasses. Studies on the Buduma (yedina) of Lake Chad.
- Vol. V – Kyari Tijjani – Dynamics of administrative change in pre-colonial Borno. A comparative study of the Sayfawa and Kanem dynasties.
- Vol. VI – Editha Platte – Kanuri Women of Borno (Nigeria). Perspectives from the little Kingdom of Musune.
- Vol. VII – Muhammad Nur Alkali – Kanem Borno Under the Sayfawa. A study of the origin, growth, and collapse of a dynasty (891-1846).