Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: Steve Smith (SteveSmith@XC.Org)
About: FW: Destruction of Guinea Bissau Archives

Sat, 26 Sep 1998 10:43:31 -0400

  • Next message: Steve Smith: "FW: Guinea-Bissau film"
    Xposted from H-AFRARTS@H-NET.MSU.EDU
    Subject: FYI: Destruction of Guinea Bissau Archives

    This is not exactly African cinema, but it is related, as so much cultural
    history has been lost.
    Please let me know if such minor diversions from our main topic are a
    problem, but I thought
    many of you might be interested.
    Steve Smith, moderator

    Date: 23 Sept 1998
    From: Kate Ezra <>
    Claude Ardouin <>

    Among the infrastructures most affected by the destruction resulting from
    the war which flared up in Guinea-Bissau on 7 June 1998, is the Instituto
    Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEP), which is the largest and most active
    research institution in the country. The complex housing INEP is located
    less than a kilometre from the initial front-line of the hostilities. It has
    been transformed into an advanced post of the Senegalese troops. The
    transformation of the complex into an army barrack and the adverse
    bombardments it consequently attracted have caused immense damages.
    At the time of writing (c. Sept. 15), INEP continues to be a military camp,
    spite of the cease fire (25 August 1998). The staff of the Institute is
    forbidden to engage in
    work to rehabilitate or save it from further destruction. Relentlessly, the
    disaster continues. This letter to inform is also an SOS for the largest
    research institution of Guinea-Bissau which is threatened by extinction.
    Description of damage: All the workrooms were forcibly opened, emptied of
    their contents and transformed into dormitories for soldiers. All work
    documents were
    thrown outside and left exposed to the elements. The stock of dozens of
    computers containing data bases on all aspect of Guinea-Bissau, compiled
    carefully and painstakingly during the past fifteen years, has disappeared
    The computers left behind have been disemboweled. Sensitive and very rare
    equipment, such as the only digital cartography table in the country, is
    thrown outside and left exposed to dust and rain.
    The INEP Library, embryo of the National Library and reference centre of all
    publications in the country as well as for certain United Nations agencies
    like FAO and UNESCO, is roofless and damaged on the sides. The torrential
    rains which have fallen on Bissau since the end of June have constantly
    entered the building. Its three floors - first, ground and basement - have
    been transformed into pools where thousands of soaked and irrecoverable
    books and journals float.
    The National Archives at INEP are scattered, shredded and exposed to rain
    and dirt. Hundreds of audio cassettes which record the history of the
    national liberation struggle, as told by its actors and witnesses, cannot be
    found. Hundreds of audio cassettes which record the oral history of the
    different regions of the country have disappeared. Photographs and films
    from the Audiovisual Archives are found dispersed and lying in the mud
    outside. In other words, entire pages of the history of Guinea-Bissau risk
    being irredeemably blank or illegible. This is particularly serious in view
    of the fact that no general history of Guinea-Bissau has yet been written,
    and that all recent efforts of the Institute have been geared towards this
    To summarize, the damages suffered by INEP have reduced to zero the enormous
    efforts made since Independence to provide the country with a centre of
    documentation and research useful to all those interested in Guinea-Bissau.
    As soon as INEP ceases to be a military barrack, a more detailed
    balance-sheet will be made available. It will be followed by our project for

    You are currently subscribed to african-cinema-conference as: []
    To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-african-cinema-conference-73905K@XC.Org

    You may post a follow-up message or a new message. To send a reply directly to the author, you may click on the email address above.

    If you would like to submit a message using your own mail program, send it to:

    If you are following up this article, please include the following line at the beginning of your message: