Print version ISSN 0018-229X
GARABA, Francis and NGULUBE, Patrick. Moving with the times in search of permanence: the digitization of "liberation struggle" archives in southern Africa. Historia [online]. 2010, vol.55, n.2, pp. 163-181. ISSN 0018-229X.
The struggle to liberate southern Africa was an important epoch in contemporary history. It follows then that this history must be preserved for posterity's sake. Of late, there has been a concerted effort by academics and archivists to preserve, digitize and disseminate on the web the "struggle archives" of southern Africa. The wide range of material reflects the diverse nature of the struggle; liberation was achieved by violent as well as non-violent means. The digitization of such records reinforces the view that these archives are part of Africa's heritage to be bequeathed to future generations and that they should be jealously guarded because they are a treasured resource. In carrying out the digitization exercise there is a need to exercise extreme caution in view of the lack of permanence of digital objects and the challenges posed by access and copyright restrictions. The issue that needs to be addressed centres on the commodification of African heritage by those with the financial and technological muscle, whilst the purported beneficiaries are left impoverished due to a lack of ownership and sustainability. In other words, through digitization Africa's cultural heritage is made vulnerable to commercial exploitation by people in the North, and the entrenchment of the digital divide.
Keywords : Access; African heritage; digital divide; digitization projects; ethical issues and digitizing records; liberation struggle archives; liberation struggle projects; preservation; southern Africa.