Digitizing the Namibian Archive

Editor’s note: A collaboration between the Polytechnic of  Namibia, The National Archives of Namibia, Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University have been engaging in digitizing parts of the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek. Starting in 2004 and continuing to the present, tens of thousands of photos, documents and film have been digitized by the NAN. Though there is not a large, formal website for external researchers, the archives have a well organized intranet where the digital items can be accessed. Some of the photos from the Cocky Hahn collection (and a few other small ones) have been uploaded to the Polytechnic website for exhibition. See article below & the external links.

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The Digital Namibia Archives Project: A 5-year Collaboration Growing Out of a Fulbright Grant

Dr. Allen Palmer
Brigham Young University
Namibia, 2004

In 2004, I received a Fulbright Scholar grant to Namibia for lecturing in journalism at Polytechnic of Namibia in the capital city Windhoek. I was a professor of communication at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. My wife, Dr. Loretta Palmer, who is a professor at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah accompanied me.

When my wife and I were in Namibia, she volunteered her services at the university while I lectured. She taught computer classes and worked as an instructional designer in the college’s distance education program.

In discussions with the Namibian college leaders, including the Rector, Dr. Tjama Tjivikua, we decided one area in which we could assist Polytechnic, in addition to the scheduled classes we were teaching, was the development of a USA-Namibia partnership to help train their staff in digitizing African cultural artifacts for their new library. Many of the African artifacts were neglected and at risk of being lost or destroyed, including old photographs, music recordings, documents, etc.

What resulted was a project that has lasted more than five years, from 2007 to 2012, and involved 35 to 40 American college teachers and students traveling to Namibia to participate in training for what was became called the “DNA Project”–the Digital Namibia Archives Project–that began in earnest in 2007. A link to the DNA Project is now featured on the Polytechnic’s main internet page: http://www.polytechnic.edu.na.

Each summer a team of six to eight college faculty and students from Utah Valley University’s Multi-media Communication Program traveled to Namibia. They assisted  with training college students and staff at Polytechnic of Namibia, and the staff at Namibian National Archives, how to digitize and preserve historic cultural records. Also assisting in organizing the program was Professor Steve Harper at Utah Valley University.

During the ensuing years after my Fulbright, my wife and I have returned to Namibia several times to support project planning. In addition, the rector, Dr. Tjivikua, has traveled to the U.S. twice to confer with us on project development. In addition to the benefits in Namibia, the students from Utah Valley University benefited from the project in their education program.

A brief overview of the DNA  project is posted on a Youtube video by a student participant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ats8jAypl0

Numerous archive photographs and documents showing the history of Namibia are posted to public at the link on the main DNA Project web page: http://dna.polytechnic.edu.na/collections.html

The 5-year plan for the DNA project recently ended and it was a remarkable example of a successful collaboration between a Fulbright host college and an American university that began with the Fulbright Scholar Program.

DNA Agreement Signed

– See more at: http://www.cies.org/article/digital-namibia-archives-project-5-year-collaboration-growing-out-fulbright-grant#sthash.yrv7Se0g.dpuf

For a link to the Polytechnic photo exhibition, see below:

http://dna.polytechnic.edu.na/collections.html

Xolela Mangcu, “Biko: A Life” (Tauris, 2013)

[From “New Books in African Studies”] Host Jonathan Judaken speaks with Xolela Mangcu, biographer of Anti-Apartheid leader Steve Biko, about the life and murder of Steve Biko, as well as the struggle for equality in South Africa under Apartheid rule, and how it relates to the Civil Rights Movement in America. – – – – Click Here for full podcast.

 

Xolela Mangcu, “Biko: A Life” (Tauris, 2013).

Episode 88: Digital African Studies with Keith Breckenridge

biometric_stateKeith Breckenridge (WISER) on the current state of digital Southern African Studies; the politics, funding, and ethics of international partnerships in digital projects; and his new book Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present.

Part I of a series on digital African studies.

 

Source: Episode 88: Digital African Studies with Keith Breckenridge

Je Suis Nigeria – By Richard Dowden

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The great surge of marchers in Paris on Sunday was impressive and very moving but what was it for? We know what it was against: murdering cartoonists – or anyone else – is a bad thing and should not happen. But what was the message to the world?

The politicians will welcome this response because they can use it to introduce lots of new security measures which no one will question. France’s security services will be given lots of money. I suspect we will soon see waves of arrests of Muslim activists in France. Politically I expect France will swing to the right and become a less tolerant society (especially of Muslims).

I will not be joining ‘Je Suis Charlie’. Why? Because although I would defend their right to draw and say what they like, these cartoonists did not respect or care about ordinary sincere believers who would have been deeply hurt by the violent dehumanised images of the founders of the great religions of the world. These were not just Muslims, but Christians and Sikhs and Buddhists as well. Some of those images came close to the sort of cartoons that the Nazis drew to depict Jews in the 1930s.

I am not a believer. I was brought up a Catholic and worked for the Catholic Church in different ways for 10 years but now I would describe myself as a sceptic, an agnostic. As a good liberal I defend the right of everyone to write, draw or compose whatever they want. Let the adult public decide whether they want to see it or not. They can mock the politicians and the Pope as much as they wish.

But if writers and cartoonists use the power of their pens to attack and mock the sincerely held beliefs of the poor and voiceless in society who cannot reply, that is not just mean, it is unjust. It is also provocative and will lead to violence. That is not a moral judgement. It is a fact.

France has a bad history with the Arab world. The vicious war for Algeria in the 1950s and 60s and the murder of many Arabs – some reports say more than 200 – in Paris in 1961 have not been forgotten. Muslims still feel discriminated against in jobs and at schools. Arabs I met – and still meet – in France complain that racism is directed at them far more than other Africans. Arabs remain at the bottom of society.

But there is a terrible irony here. The Wahhabi Islam that has created Islamic militancy has its origins in a close ally of the West; Saudi Arabia. Wealthy Saudis, such as Osama bin Laden, from a country that grew rich on our need for their cheap oil, fund terrorism against us. Just as in the 1970s and 80s much of the IRA’s money came from Britain’s ally, the United States.

Friday’s siege and shoot out and the outpouring of solidarity with those who suffered and the people of France in general was deeply moving. The world will have sympathy for France. But was it also a nationalist march making a statement about the strength of France? Will France now swing to the right and use the march to create a less open society?

Or will the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ movement open out and include all those suffering at the hands of extremists? I can think of other countries – Mali, Kenya and Nigeria to name just three – which have suffered far more recently. In north east Nigeria an estimated 2,000 people were killed last week alone by Boko Haram, which is inspired by the same philosophy and uses the same terror tactics. How much coverage has it had?

The editors could argue that Paris is a few hours away and France and Britain are close allies with shared economic and security interests. But today distance is less of an issue. The fanatics who killed in Paris are inspired by and inspire the fanatics of Boko Haram. These are not about local grievances. The death of distance means we are close; “every man is a piece of the continent” as John Donne put it 400 years ago, we are all “involved in mankind”. So where is the Je Suis Nigeria movement?

In the UK we have recently seen a lot of ceremonies, books and TV programmes all about Britain’s role in the First World War. But I see no attempt by the government or the media to mark the outbreak of the World War I as a global catastrophe and how the settlement that followed it created World War II. We still mark our historical events as tribes, not as members of the human race.

This weekend has witnessed a huge emotional expression of solidarity with the French. But I notice that an immense celebration of the battle of Waterloo is being planned for next year – another great British victory over an evil enemy. Who were we victorious over? Oh, Er –the French.

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa; altered states, ordinary miracles. Follow Richard on twitter @DowdenAfrica 

Source: Je Suis Nigeria – By Richard Dowden