This pilot project consists of two components: 1) preservation of the archive that was kept by the colonial district administration of the Cercle de Kaya and its transfer to the Centre National des Archives (CNA) in Ouagadougou; and 2) investigating the potential and feasibility of recovering archives that were kept by colonial district administrations in two other district capitals of Upper Volta (Fada N’Gourma and Ouahigouya).
A preliminary assessment of the collection kept in Kaya has already been made. It comprises a wide variety of documents related to the administration of the colonial district, many of them unique. They are of interest to a wide range of historical study fields: population, politics, economy, development, customary law. These documents provide an insight in the local intricacies of the administration, politics, economy and social life of the district.
The material in Kaya though is at risk of neglect, physical deterioration and destruction. The documents are stacked on shelves and on the floor in a shed behind the administrative buildings, exposed to dust and moisture and at the mercy of rats, termites and mildew. More recent documents continue to be piled haphazardly on top of the old colonial ones. The authorities are aware of the problems but lack the means (cupboards, boxes, human resources) to properly organise and maintain the current archives, or preserve the older ones.
The physical condition of these documents will be assessed, selected documents will be classified, relocated to the CNA and digitised. Two archivists at CNA will receive appropriate training in archival collection management and digitisation techniques.
The second component of this project will assess the potential and feasibility of recovering colonial archives in Fada N’Gourma and Ouahigouya in preparation for a future major research project. A preliminary inventory of materials will be created and the strategy for a major project will be formulated during a workshop organised in Ouagadougou.
The Centre National des Archives in Ouagadougou, the Gouvernorat and the Haut-Commissariat in Kaya have all given their support to the project. It is hoped the project may also foster a renewed interest in national and local histories.