Archiving white community historical manuscripts in postcolonial Zimbabwe

1980 to present

  • Samuel Chabikwa National University of Science and Technology
  • Nathan Mnjama University of Botswana
  • Maitseo MM Bolaane University of Botswana
Keywords: archives, memory, minority, white community, migrated archives


This paper is premised on the observation that mainstream archival activities are the main cause and source of the “absences and silences” of the voices of the minority and the underrepresented in the archives. The aim of the study is to explain the context and documentation strategies of archiving and preservation of Historical Manuscripts (HM) of the white community in post-colonial Zimbabwe. In particular, the study seeks to: (a) Determine the legislative, regulatory framework for the management of HM in selected cultural heritage institutions in Zimbabwe; (b) Assess the acquisition policies and practices of mainstream cultural heritage institutions in Zimbabwe; (c) Describe the usage, purposes, and accessibility of both pre-archival and archival HM of the white community. The findings of the study revealed adequate provisions in the National Archives of Zimbabwe Act (2001) for the archiving of HM of the white community in Zimbabwe, although there were limitations of outdated policies for the institutions studied. The study also addressed the issue of limited funding and shrinking budgets which impeded on the operations of both selected cultural heritage institutions and white community associations. This resulted in failure to adhere to archiving/records management standards, and the upgrading of equipment and facilities, as well as the recruitment and retention of requisite and qualified staff. Overall, this endangers the HM collections to neglect and decay. HM were migrated from Zimbabwe to other countries regionally and abroad into private hands, and their extent, nature, condition of storage and status of preservation are undetermined.


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eISSN: 0376-4753