The University of Namibia (Unam)’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance and Resource Mobilisation, Dr. Ellen Ndeshi Namhila has appealed to Namibians to support the national archives.
“There is a notion that archives are boring but if you want to discover factually go to the archives. Many records I discovered are lost in the archives,” she said.
Namhila spoke last Wednesday at the launch of her new book, ‘Little Research Value: African Estate Records and Colonial Gaps in a post-colonial national archive’. The book is an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation.
The title of the book is derived from a citation from a letter in 1979 when the chief archivist in Windhoek asked for permission from the Director of Archives in Pretoria to destroy native estate files from District Bethanien. “The permission was granted,” said Namhila who said there are many missing historical records of black Namibians.
“…It came to light that requests of records of people who were classified as non-white under apartheid could not be retrieved from the archives. In many other cases, nothing could be found in the National Archives, despite frantic searches by the staff, while the same type of searches for records of white people were easily retrieved and served to clients,” said Namhila. Further, she said: “Archives are for everybody. They should reflect the history of the entire nation and they should keep records about every citizen.”
Officially launching the book, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba said that colonial archives were instruments of
perpetuating discrimination ensuring that Africans had nothing to look back to with pride and “nothing to look forward to with hope.”
“This book informs the reader that as a young country we need to ensure that our national archives truly capture the full extent of the different facets of our history so that future generations can learn about this history with pride,” said Pohamba.