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A Note on the Sao Tome Archives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2014

Extract

When I wrote two prominent European historians of western Africa that I was planning a trip to São Tomé and would check out the national archives, one replied: “Are there really local archives? The Cape Verdes seem to have lost theirs.” The other remarked that “[i]t would certainly be worth finding out whether any of the old archives are still on the island.” Even the person who would be my host there, a resident American official, had the impression that the Portuguese had carted off all the colonial records when São Tomé and Príncipe became independent in 1975.

I am happy to report that the Arquivo Histórico of the new nation is alive and surprisingly well. On my visit in March of 1996 I met two dedicated and cultivated young women who were doing their utmost against long odds to organize and preserve all that is left of their country's written records. They are Maria Nazaré Ceita, a trained historian who is Director General of Culture of São Tomé e Principe, and, under her, Anabela Barroso, Director of the Arquivo Histórico.

Since December of 1995 they and a tiny staff have been moving the archives into spacious, if spartan, new quarters in the heart of São Tomé city. The modernistic one-story building used to be the offices of the Prime Minister. When I visited the place, much had already been done. Long neat rows of boxed and dated dossiers were up on shelves, though jumbles of papers remained to be sorted. The archives also contains a small library for researchers and space for a large, as yet unfurnished, reading room.

Type
Research Article
Information
History in Africa , Volume 24 , January 1997 , pp. 399 - 400
Copyright
Copyright © African Studies Association 1997

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