October 9, 2003

Botswana claims back her history

Botswana National Archives and Records Services have started a process to claim back some of the country’s archives and records from former colonising countries and neighbouring states. Acting Principal Archivist Kago Ramokate explained that Botswana’s archives were known to exist in the United Kingdom, Germany and in neighbouring countries that had some interaction with Botswana in the past, namely South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

He said that steps have been taken to identify these records and a lot of money has already been spent on microfilm and repatriation. He added that some of the records were of historical significance because they contain invaluable information that the country did not have before.

The records were shipped away during the Bechuanaland Protectorate era as they were thought to be too sensitive to leave behind. He said some were created by colonial states and kept as records of their colonial exploits. The records had been found to have invaluable information that could be used for research, education and for administrative purposes. Records from Germany and Zimbabwe had already been repatriated while arrangements were being made to copy materials from Namibia, South Africa and England.

Ramokate explained that there were microfilm rolls containing information dating back to 1896 on various taxes, duties and fees levied under the high commission. They also contain information on different types of legislation, types of offences committed and the punishment inflicted by courts during the colonial period.

Other information includes payment of pension for various denominations in Bechuanaland Protectorate and the colonial annual reports on cattle diseases and drought. (Daily News Online, Gabarone)

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