12 November 2017

South Africa: Arts and Culture Launches Online Digitized Audiovisual Recordings, 17 Nov

press release

The Department of Arts and Culture will launch the online digitized audiovisual recordings on the 17 November 2017 at the National Archives and Records Services of South Africa in Pretoria. The aim is to build a global awareness of the various issues at stake in preserving the audiovisual heritage and make these recordings accessible to the present and future generation.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa said during the hand over, "Armed with these digitized recordings of the Rivonia Trial, we shall be able to tell the full story of this trying period in our history with sound, words and silences to present and future generations in all its glory, its horror and ultimately its triumphs."

The online launch of the digitized audiovisual recordings is a significant step towards preservation and promotion of our audiovisual heritage. In response to a proposal by the Czech Republic in October 2005, UNESCO's General Conference approved the proclamation of 27 October as the annual World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. This year's celebration took place under theme, "Discover, remember and share ".

Sound recordings and moving images in any form are vulnerable, and easily discarded or deliberately destroyed. Too much of the world's 20th century audiovisual heritage is now lost, and much more is slipping beyond recovery because of neglect, natural decay and technological obsolescence. Unless public awareness of the importance of preservation is increased, this trend will continue.

Minister Mthethwa said during his budget vote speech this year; "Through the co-operation project between L'Institut National De L'Audiovisuel (INA) and the National Archives and Records Services of South Africa involving the digitisation of dictabelts and the training of South African Archivists on the digitisation and restoration of dictabelts, the resultant Rivonia Trial Recordings will be made available to all South African citizens and the world at large on 27 October 2017 when we celebrate UNESCO's World Day for Audio-visual Heritage. The other digitisation projects to be implemented in 217/18 financial year include the digitisation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) audio-cassettes and Bloke Modisane papers."

Audio-visual archives are a cornerstone of the memory of the world, with recordings that enable recall for future generations and give context to our shared history, culture and humanity for over a century. Promote a greater understanding of the unique role of audiovisual archives and the need for it to be safeguarded, preserved and protected as part of our world heritage.

Safeguarding audiovisual heritage is a complex process requiring a range of technical, political, human and financial solutions. Not taking action will result in the loss of entire chapters of our heritage in less than ten years, and lead to impoverishment of our identity. The collective memory of the different peoples of the world provides the foundation for sustainable development, the defense of basic rights and an understanding of the past. But that memory needs to remain accessible.

Issued by: Department of Arts and Culture

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