The Impact of Colonial Languages (English & French) on the Teaching of Arabic Language in Nigeria

Alfa Muhammed Salisu, Abubakar Salisu Abdullahi


Prior to the advent of the British colonialists to the geographical location now known as Nigeria, Arabic Language was used as the official language of communication and of daily intercourse in vast areas, especially in the erstwhile Bornu, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba states of 11th – 19th centuries.  Historical records abound to show that for about three centuries between 17th and 19th centuries, Arabic documents remained the only source of information for European writers on western and central Sudan.  A large number of these scholarly works were written by native West African authors in Arabic language or in their native languages using Arabic scripts.

Thus, to understand much of Nigerian past is to understand Arabic language.  But with the prominence of English Language in which much of the Nigerian past had originally been written.  This paper intends to trace a brief history of the use of Arabic Language on Nigerian scene, its contribution in the documentation of Nigerian past, and its subsequent supplanting by the colonial languages with special reference to government policy on language status in Nigeria.


Colonial Languages, Nigeria, Arabic language

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