ISBN 9783905758788
Pages 278
Dimensions 244 x 170 mm
Published 2017
Publisher Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Namibia
Format Paperback

"Little Research Value"

African Estate Records and Colonial Gaps in a Post-Colonial National Archive

by Ellen Ndeshi Namhila

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila is intrigued by the question: Why can the National Archives of Namibia respond to genealogical enquiries of Whites in a matter of minutes with finding estate records of deceased persons, while similar requests from Blacks cannot be served? Not satisfied with the sweeping statement  that this is the result of colonialism and apartheid, she follows the track of so-called “Native estates” through legislation, record creation and disposal, records management  and administrative neglect, authorised  and unauthorised destruction, transfer and appraisal, selective processing, and (almost) final amnesia. Eventually she discovers over 11,000 forgotten surviving African estate records – but also evidence for the destruction of many others. And she demonstrates  the potential  of these records to interpret  the lives of those who otherwise appear in history only as statistics – records which were condemned  to destruction  by colonial archivists stating  they had “little research value and no functional value”.

This study of memory against forgetting is a call to post-colonial archives to re-visit their holdings and the systemic colonial bias that continues to haunt them. This is the revised version of Ellen Namhila’s 2015 doctoral thesis published at the University of Tampere, Finland.

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About the Author

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila was born at Ondobe village in northern Namibia in 1963, and went into exile when she was twelve years old. She got her education in Namibia, Angola, Zambia, The Gambia, and Finland, obtaining an M.SSc. in Library and Information Science at the University of Tampere, Finland. She has worked as a researcher and librarian at the Multidisciplinary Research Centre; as a Deputy Director: Research, Information and Library Services at the Namibian Parliament; and as a Director of Namibia Library and Archives Service in the Ministry of Education. She is currently the University Librarian at the University of Namibia. Ellen is author of: The Price of Freedom, her autobiography (1997); Kahumba Kandola - Man and Myth: the Biography of a Barefoot Soldier (2005); Tears of Courage: Five Mothers Five Stories One Victory (2009). She is currently a PhD student at the University of Tampere, Finland.

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