Online Archive: African Independence Days

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The online archive “African Independence Days” consists of more than 20,000 images from twelve African countries. The research database comprises ethnographic material which was collected as part of the research-project “The poetics and politics of national commemoration in Africa” (2009-2013). The Online-Archive is continued for Ghana, Côte d’Ívoire and Burkina Faso, in the context of the follow-up research project “Marking ethnic and national differences in African national-day celebrations” (2013-2016).

The documentation of the 50th Independence Anniversary of Ghana (2007) was the starting point for comparative research on national-day celebrations in Africa. Between 2009 and 2013, a research group of six doctoral students at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Mainz, has been exploring the politics and poetics of national commemoration in Africa. In collaboration with a group of MA students, supervised by Prof. Dr. Carola Lentz, comparative research has been conducted on the golden jubilees of independence in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, and on the twentieth anniversary of independence in Namibia. This collaborative approach permitted unique comparative insights into national memory at work and political celebrations in Africa. The archival material is complemented by documentation of the 50th anniversary of independence in Tanzania (2011).

The archive “African Independence Days” comprises the following types of items:

  1. Document: Photos of approx. 800 documents, i.e. posters, fliers, book pages, and brochures as well as historical photographs of past Independence Day celebrations.
    This category also includes lists of the documents/grey literature (sorted by country) available in the archives of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, JGU Mainz; furthermore, the front pages of each of the approx. 150 documents/grey literature have been scanned and saved in the online archive to allow users a first look at the document types (such as programme booklets, flyers, invitation cards, comic books, history books, transcripts of speeches, reports, bank notes featuring the anniversary logos, news magazines or anniversary-editions of magazines).
  2. Photo: This category includes more than 16,000 photos taken at various events of the jubilee celebrations and events associated with the commemoration of the jubilee. Furthermore, photos of the post-2010 national-day celebrations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Burkina Faso have been archived. The photos document events such as independence-day parades, cultural parades, plays, concerts, torchlight processions, conferences, football matches, as well as photos of election campaign events or other national holidays, such as Eid al-Fitr, Pentecost or Flag Day.
  3. Object: Photos of the approx. 150 objects (paraphernalia featuring the anniversary logo and merchandise) which are preserved in the department’s ethnographic collection.
  4. Newspaper: Photos of approx. 3,000 newspaper articles taken from several daily newspapers collected by members of the research team and consulted in the respective national archives; lists of approx. 6,000 newspaper articles which can be consulted in the archives of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies. Among the articles listed are those taken from more than 150 local African newspapers mainly in English and French, but also in Afrikaans, German, Malagasy, and Swahili.

The descriptions and background data of the images are mainly accessible in German or English.



    Bilder: oben, rechts:Ghana@50 © C. Lentz, 2007
    unten, mitte: Burkina Faso@50 C. Lentz, 2010