The Nature of Documentary Materials in Africa and the Challenges to Preserving Them

  • Alexio Motsi National Archives and Records Service of South Africa
Keywords: Preservation, Africa, Documentation


Africa has a rich and diverse culture that has been documented in many different ways, some of which are not as conventional as the western ways. Documentation methods in Africa range from word of mouth (oral history) to the modern electronic systems. Leaves, skins, tree bark, stones, clay, rocks, string are some of the traditional ways in which information was documented. The notion that Africa is a continent of song and dance must be revisited and corrected. The discovery of the Islamic manuscripts going back to the 12th Century AD in North and West Africa is a clear proof that scholarly work has been going on for centuries in Africa. The challenge to us is how to preserve these diverse materials considering that the world is advancing at a very fast rate with worrying issues such as the depletion of the ozone layer and ravaging poverty. Governments are faced with different challenges that tend to push heritage preservation to the bottom of the list of priorities for justifiable reasons.

ESARBICA Journal Vol.23 2004: 62-67

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753