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NCAC discusses oral tradition archives in the digital age

May 11, 2017, 12:32 PM | Article By: Fatou B. Cham

The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) commenced a three-day symposium aimed to addressing the importance of collecting and archiving oral tradition archives in the digital age on Tuesday.

Held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, the symposium was part of efforts to highlight the value of oral archives and also to provide a forum for internationally renowned scholars to share ideas on the relevance of digital archives for research in the fields of Digital Humanities.

The event, funded by The Gerda Henkel Foundation, was attended by scholars and university professors from USA, Germany, England, Jamaica, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Australia, Senegal and The Gambia.

Speaking at the opening of the symposium, Baba Ceesay, Director of National Centre for Arts and Culture, expressed regards to the founder of the National Archive and Museum, Alhaji Bakary Sidebe, for his work as a collector of cultural heritage, and as a keeper of collective historical knowledge.

“It is my firm belief that the symposium will make a great contribution to the field of Digital Humanities and digitization of knowledge,” he added.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Dr Isatou Touray, Minister of Trade and Regional Integration, said, “It is important that at the outset, to remind our esteemed guests of some of the previous efforts to take this invaluable archive from the analogue to the digital age since 2003.”

She said it was in that year that the NCAC received a US Ambassador’s Fund grant for Cultural Preservation to convert some of the highly deteriorated tape from reels to CD’S. Through this project, hundreds of archival materials were saved for posterity.

Natomba Chilufya, a representative from The Gerda Henkel Foundation, said The Gerda Henkel Foundation is a non-profit foundation which aims to promote science, primarily by supporting specific projects in the field of the humanities: with a specific scope.

“It also prioritizes research projects that are of outstanding quality and therefore promises to achieve the greatest benefit with the funding made available,” she added.

She stated that the first partner institution for the coordination of the programme in Africa was the graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

“It is therefore with regard to the focus of the Patrimonies Programme that the Gerda Henkel Foundation was able to approve support of the project of Professor Henning Schreiber for the digitalizing of the archive of Bakary Kebba Sidibe, which has important documents on the history and culture of The Gambia and its neighbouring countries,” she concluded.