Archives as Extended Memory of Communities: The Case of Dandawa Chiefdom in Hurungwe District, Zimbabwe

  • Ivan Marowa University of Zimbabwe
Keywords: Social/collective memory, divided memory, archives, records, remembering


Archives and the archivists are critical elements in the construction and reconstruction of social history. Archival institutions should not be viewed simply as repository institutions, but as this article argues, should be considered as extended memories of those communities whose records they house. It is through the archive and the archivist that researchers and historians gain access to memories and history of communities regarding those periods which are both accessible and inaccessible through oral memory. This article argues that archival records should not be treated merely as written documents but more as contributing much to the collective memories of communities. Archives are part of the memory that carry shared experiences of communities. It argues that despite lacking or having minimum presence of the Africans’ voice, most of these documents are about Africans and their societies. Their whispers come through, making the documents to be part of the collective or shared and divided memories of African communities for which they were created. The National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) is one such institution that acts as an extended memory of local communities by housing Native Commissioners’ reports on colonial districts and their inhabitants, documents of chiefs and headmen and articles and books on customs, rituals and histories of Zimbabwean people. The article’s argument is located between oral and documented forms of memory.

Author Biography

Ivan Marowa, University of Zimbabwe
Department of History

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753