Recovering the rich local history of Kita (Mali) through the salvaging of its archival heritage

The Kita district was the oldest colonial district in Mali. Located at the crossroads of several trade routes, the cosmopolitan region was a refugee zone that welcomed populations fleeing persecutions from neighbouring kingdoms. Preserving the archival material of the region will encourage more research on the history of Western Mali.

Founded in 1880, Kita is the oldest district of French colonisation in Mali, as it played a crucial role in the military conquest. For this reason, the Cercle – the main administrative authority since colonisation – collected a tremendous amount of information about the social and economic life of the region in the 20th century. Located in the centre of various trade routes of gold and of enslaved people, Kita became a cosmopolitan region, welcoming refugees from neighbouring kingdoms. However, due to the lack of available documentation from the region, the slave trade in Western Mali has hardly been studied.

Since the independence of Mali in 1960, the documents have never been classified or preserved. They are abandoned in an old building dating from the colonial period, in a room that is flooded every year during the rainy season. The content of the boxes is not clear. There is no knowledge on how to preserve the documents, nor financial availability.

Stemming from a pilot survey project in 2016, the project catalogued and digitised 14,487 documents. The archival team in Kita was trained in digitisation and metadata collection. The digital files are deposited with the local authorities, the National Archives of Mali, and the British Library.

Project Details

Location: Mali, Western Africa, Africa Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £46,436 Commencement Date: 09/2018 Project Status: Completed
Project owner? Update this project

Related Projects

EAP1402 Pub003

19th-century documents from the Peruvian asylum el Manicomio del Cercado

The Victor Larco Herrera Hospital in the centre of Lima, Peru, was closed in 1917. Its archives, dating back to 1859, consist of medical documentation as well as administrativ…

Explore project
EAP1306 Silk Museum

The Caucasian Silk Circle: Digitising Photo Collection of the State Silk Museum in Georgia

The State Silk Museum of Georgia holds the only documentary evidence of the practice of sericulture in the 19th century. Taken during expeditions of the Caucasian Sericulture …

Explore project
EAP1294 team

Safeguarding for Posterity Two Private Collections of Palm-Leaf Manuscripts from the Tamil Country

The Kalliṭaikuṟicci and Villiyampākkam collections are palm-leaf collections held privately in India. The collections are essential to study the prevalent reading practices in…

Explore project