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In The Honour of Mandela, Rivonia Trial Archives Go Digital


The Nelson Mandela Foundation today launched the digital archives of the 1964 Rivonia Trial recordings which will be made available to the public at the National Library as part of the centenary celebrations of South Africa’s first democratic president.

In a packed auditorium at the foundation’s offices in Johannesburg, representatives of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) – the custodians of the archives – and the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) who developed technology to restore the archives, made presentations on the genesis of the project and the digitisation and restoration process.

Quentin Geffroy explained how the English and Afrikaans language portions of the Rivonia Trial were easier to digitise than the Nguni languages of isiXhosa and IsiZulu during the process that took just two years to complete.

Geffroy played back some of the digitised Rivonia Trial archives and explained the various technical factors taken into account when the process was underway. He said that notes from the Rivonia Trial had now been digitised in totality.

Erika Denis of the French Embassy in South Africa believes that this restoration process will assist and encourage researchers, scholars, writers, artists and other citizens to delve into and remember this deeply pivotal moment in South African history.

The processes of restoration and digitisation of the archives also shed light on the objectives and challenges of heritage management, including the technical challenges that hamper the accessibility to such heritage for future generations.

Professor Garth Stevens of Wits University said the archives were important sites with views of the past but engaged with through the lens of the present.

The “Listening to the Rivonia Trial” event ultimately aims to showcase the potential of the archives for research, art and culture and to celebrate the unique heritage that the restored sound archives represent to the South African public.

– African News Agency (ANA)

In The Honour of Mandela, Rivonia Trial Archives Go Digital

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