Skip to main content

Universitätsbibliothek Mainz

Jahn Library for African Literature

A unique collection of literary works by African writers in over 90 languages, including the former colonial languages as well as a very large number of African languages.

In addition to classics from the various literary traditions of Africa, the collection includes international, contemporary bestsellers, as well as numerous lesser known, locally produced works, translations, comics, screen adaptations, and audio books. The collection is completed by extensive secondary literature and magazines. Many of the collected books are also interesting as objects, e.g. as first editions of now important works or as copies with handwritten dedications by authors, but also with regard to what their design reveals about the context of each publication.

The Jahn Library for African Literature was created as the private collection of Janheinz Jahn (1918–1973), whose interest in African literature was sparked in 1951 at a lecture by the Senegalese poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor in Frankfurt. This interest, which manifested itself in the collection which grew steadily over the subsequent decades, was combined with activities as a translator, editor, author, and freelance journalist, through which Jahn made a significant contribution to the public perception of African literature, especially in Germany, but also worldwide. After his death, Jahn’s collection was made accessible to the public in early 1975 at the Institute of Anthropology and African Studies and has been steadily expanding since then.

Visit the Jahn Library for African Literature website for more information.

Contact at the Institute of Anthropology and African Studies

Dr. Anja Oed
Dr. Anja Oed