Prof. Abdalla Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has said that Almajiris are not illiterates contrary to a widely held view.
Adamu expressed this viewpoint while answering questions from newsmen at the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the 11th Edition of Literature in Northern Nigeria Conference on Monday in Abuja.
The theme of the 4-day conference being hosted by NOUN in collaboration with Kwara State University is “Literature and Contemporary Developments in Northern Nigeria.
Adamu said that one of the aims of the conference was to bring to the fore the fact that Northern Nigeria produced a huge mass of literature in indigenous languages.
According to Adamu, Northern Nigeria literature is about writing in local languages but the majority of Nigerians thinks of literature only in English Language.
“Literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write English; literacy is the ability to read and write in any language.
“Examples of people who are literate and who are taken for illiterates are the Almajiris. They are not just beggars; they are scholars; they have been sent from place to place to learn.
“Almajiris means somebody who moves from one place to another searching for knowledge.
“They learn in Arabic and can read and write in Arabic; they can read and write Hausa language using Arabic scripts; they do not go western conventional schools, so they do not write ABCD,’’ he said.
The vice-chancellor said that Northern Nigeria scholars had been writing novels in indigenous languages as far back as 1932 under British colonial tutelage.
Adamu said that another essence of the conference, which had been going on for 11 years was to draw attention to thriving Northern Nigeria literature.
He regretted that most often, Northern Nigeria was judged in terms of performance in examinations.