By Aminata Ceesay
The National Center for Arts and Culture kicked off a three day international symposium on oral tradition archives in the digital age: opportunities and challenges at a local hotel in Kololi.
The event was meant to address the importance of collecting and archiving oral tradition as demonstrated in the work of the collector. Scholars and university professors from USA, Germany, England, Jamaica, Guinea Bissau, Austria, Senegal and The Gambia, funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation in Germany.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of trade and regional integration, Dr Isatou Touray said: “It is important at the onset 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. It was in that year NCAC received a US
ambassador’s fund grant for cultural prevention to transit some of the highly deteriorated tapes from reels to CDs. Through this project hundreds of the archival materials were saved for posterity.”
She added: “Currently, during this period the NCAC was also working with the Swedish Musik House, with a Swedish Government grant, to digitize those components of the RDD archives which were musical materials.”
Also speaking at the event, the Director of NCAC said the symposium is also part of the efforts to highlight the value of the oral archives of the NCAC, adding that it is intended to provide a forum for internationally renowned scholars to share ideas on the relevance of digital archives for research.
Nalomba Chilufya, representative for Gerda Henkel Foundation, said: “Gerda Henkel Foundation since its establishment in 1976, the foundation has been supporting research in the area of historical humanities in Germany and worldwide. The Henkel Foundation is a non-profit foundation and the objective of the foundation is to promote science, primarily by supporting specific projects that are of an outstanding quality given the scientific funding made available.”
She added: “For a number of years, the foundation has also increasingly addressed issues of great relevance to contemporary life and the future, above all, as part of its special programs which are titled, ‘Islam, the modern nation state and transnational movements’ and security, society and the state. It is important to note that the foundation has been supporting young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia.”