Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Out of Africa: Private Film Archives in Developing Countries

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

Out of Africa: Private Film Archives in Developing Countries

Article excerpt

Among this summer's more encouraging events has been the XIIth ESARBICA (*) Conference (and pre-conference seminar) that was held in Mangochi (Malawi), August 2-6, 1993. There were around 80 participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia, with apologies from Uganda and Angola. The theme of the conference was Private Archives; the seminar concerned Management of Audiovisual Archives, and had around 40 participants. It was coordinated by the representative of the International Council on Archives together with Mr. Everon Kloppers from Namibia and Mr Antonio Sopa from Mozambique.

The two meetings had at least one issue in common: private archives. The conference participants focused on archives made by important individuals, private (business) organisations and missionary societies. The seminar pointed out that private archives would only relate to the upper layers of (post) colonial society, and not touch the vast majority of the populace. Hence, to obtain a more complete view, it will be necessary to consider oral history and tradition as a complement to these private archives.

A lot seems to be happening in the Southern and Eastern African states. Among the developments that have come to our attention is the project of our colleagues from the Zimbabwe National Archives, who are studying how archive buildings may be constructed with a view to minimising energy and maintenance cost without sacrificing proper storage or access conditions. (**)

The increasing importance of audiovisual materials in the Eastern and Southern African region is evidenced by the implicit inclusion of audiovisual media in the Act on the National Archive System (Mozambique; Boletin da Republica, 26.10.1992), and by the explicit inclusion of such materials in Article 1 of the Archives Act (Namibia; Government Gazette, 18.06.1992).

Nevertheless, much remains to be done. ESARBICA has therefore established a Subcommittee on Audiovisual Archives. Its plan for immediate action 1993-1996 includes:

* promoting the creation of national groups

* carrying out a survey of the actual visual archiving in the region.

ESARBICA's long term perspective concerns include:

* promoting regional and national training opportunities

* establishing a listing, per country, of audiovisual producers i.e. for copyright considerations

* establishing regional standards

The Subcommittee, rather than limit itself to general declarations of intent, is committed to collective activity. The Subcommittee is chaired by Mr. Everon Kloppers, of the National Archives of Namibia, PB 13250, Windhoek, Namibia. …

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