The rich history of Hausa language

Written by Isabel Harmse

Hausa language, the most important indigenous lingua franca in West and Central Africa, is spoken as a first or second language by about 40–50 million people. The home territories of the Hausa people lie on both sides of the border between Niger, where about one-half of the population speaks Hausa as a first language, and Nigeria, where about one-fifth of the population speaks it as a first language. The Hausa are predominantly Muslim. Their tradition of long-distance commerce and pilgrimages to the Holy Cities of Islam has carried their language to almost all major cities in West, North, Central, and Northeast Africa. (

According to the National African Language Resource Center, Hausa language and culture are wonderful examples of Africa’s triple heritage, namely the fusion of African, Arab-Islamic, and Euro-Christian traditions. The Hausa writing tradition goes back to the middle ages when the Ajami (Hausa in Arabic script) literacy was developed through the Arab-Islamic school. Hausa is also written in the Roman alphabet, which is mainly used today to teach the language. You can frequently hear the Hausa language in international radio broadcasting, such as West African Radio, Voice of America, British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Moscow, and Radio Beijing.


Hausa is a tone language, a classification in which pitch differences add as much to the meaning of a word as do consonants and vowels

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