New Archives Spotlight Kariba Dam’s History, Tonga Tradition

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE iconic Kariba Dam construction and Tonga tradition have been consolidated in artistic and literary displays mounted at the newly-launched Kariba Community Archives Centre.

The facility houses valuable literature on the world’s largest inland man-made dam’s construction and Tonga ethnic group’s history.

Cultural Deputy Minister, Ruth Mavhungu Maboyi officially opened the centre in Kariba Friday.

Speaking at the event, she said archives of this nature were repositories of history that benefit future generations, and the collection at the Kariba Community Archives Centre was diverse.

“A lot of valuable literature about Kariba was gleaned during the collection exercise, including the construction of the dam and the famous ‘Operation Noah’, which constituted the most popular visual script,” Maboyi said.

“Other areas of research interest found within the national repository include the Tonga ethnic group history, economic and social activities, and power generation projects.

“The hydroelectric power station has been a pivotal economic activity from the time of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland up to now.

“These are the key research areas of interest that were unravelled during the setting up of this community archive. They proved to be vital and of enduring value, hence worth the investment and commitment by both parties for the benefit of future generations.”

At the conception of the community archives idea, the goal was to establish a community archive in each of the ten provinces nationwide, the deputy minister said.

The new site is the fifth of its kind in the country, having been preceded by Arcturus High School in Mashonaland East, Girls High School in Harare, Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Mbungo in Masvingo, and Shabanie Mine in Midlands provinces.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs stands ready to support all who are willing to establish community archives. My deep gratitude goes to the Kariba community for the tremendous support rendered towards the successful establishment of this community archive project,” Maboyi said.

She hailed traditional leaders in Kariba for their hospitality, cooperation and valuable information provided during oral history interviews.

The concept of community archives is not unique to Zimbabwe but has been adopted globally, with recorded evidence stretching as far back as 1955 in New Zealand.

The minister said the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) has other projects of national significance that it has embarked on.

She added: “Of notable interest is the digitization exercise of the nation’s film and sound archives with state-of-the-art equipment, one of its kind in the whole of Africa. This film digitization project was made possible through a partnership with international organisations such as Fédération Internationale des Archives de Télévision (FIAT), The International Federation of Television Archives (IFTA), UNESCO and the Swiss Embassy to the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

Maboyi urged stakeholders of the Kariba Community Archives to adopt modern ways of preserving records.