Although many authors have mentioned the existence of manuscripts in Ivory Coast, information about their location, extent and content remains unclear. Kept in private libraries and at the mercy of the humid Ivorian climate, these manuscripts risk disappearing before a complete catalogue can be created.
The Ivory Coast regions of Bondoukou, Mankono, Kong and Bouake hold a wealth of manuscripts. Mentioned by authors such as Jean-Louis Triaud, Paul Marty, and Baba Younous Mohamed, the manuscripts are held in various libraries in the region. However, the extent of the manuscripts, their contents and their locations remains unknown. From a preliminary survey it is impossible to tell what material exists and where it can be found.
The humid Ivorian climate and the abundance of rain in the region makes the collection and survey of these manuscripts urgent.
This pilot survey project located 807 manuscripts in Mankono, Bondoukou and Bouna. The project created a detailed catalogue of the material, including their physical state, their condition of preservation and their formats, which will help researchers find and make use of these manuscripts. The materials were classified, put in archival boxes and set in safer places. The local staff gained great understanding of preservation practices, and of the value of the manuscripts. The manuscript owners were informed of the value of the materials they hold, and they agreed to make the materials available to scholars.