Thursday, August 15, 2013

African Archives

Today I had to go to Accra City Campus to pick up a check. Since it was still morning after I finished I decided to go to the PRAAD (Public Records and Archives Department) formerly NAG (National Archives of Ghana) around the corner to see what the national government archives of the Republic of Ghana had on the African student demonstration in Moscow in December 1963. It turns out that all of the national government archives in Ghana from independence in 1957 forward are still classified and are not likely to be declassified any time soon. Indeed the existing government policy seems to be that all archives of the independent state of Ghana are to be permanently classified. Only archives from the era of British colonial rule and a bit before are available.  I am wondering if any other African governments have similar policies of keeping all of their archives since independence secret and only declassifying those archives dealing with the colonial era and before. If it is in fact a wide spread policy then it is a huge obstacle to researching modern African history. The documents I wanted to look at are almost 50 years old, a time long before my birth when my parents were young, yet they are still classified along with every other central government archival document written after 6 March 1957. If anybody knows about the archival classification policies of African states other than Ghana, please leave a comment.


Nina said...

I didn't know this. I wonder whether there will be a revision of this policy/practice under the Right to Information bill?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Well, I did not either. I just assumed that 50 years was a long enough time that the documents would be declassified.