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 <email@example.com>
Claude Ardouin <Ardouin@aol.com>
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
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
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