South Sudan has finally launched the construction of its National Archive to preserve its rich history and culture.
The construction of the new structure is funded by the Norwegian government – 11 years after the Crown Prince of Norway promised it to South Sudanese.
Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng who officiated the ground-breaking ceremony in Juba on Friday described the structure as an important instrument for preserving the identity of the South Sudanese.
“This process started 11 years ago when His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Norway promised to give the country (South Sudan) a permanent structure that would be the home of the national archives… I am beyond excited to see that we are closer than ever to achieve our goal,” she said.
Nyandeng described the structure as “a beautiful gift that will never be old.”
“I see school children walking through old ways guided by their ancestors and feeling proud of their history. I see my grandchildren and great grandchildren interacting with liberators and cultures that might have been forgotten. This land is so powerful because it will tell the history of all of us,” she stated.
The Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan said the structure will enhance South Sudan’s quest for peace, democracy and justice through history.
“National archive is important to unify the nation, connect people with the history and allow learning from that history,” Siv Kaspersen stated.
The National Archives will be the primary source of information on history, cultural heritage and collective memory.
South Sudan Country Director for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) said it will display South Sudan’s origin history and shape its destiny.
“Documentation of heritage is very importance because our young people need to know where the nation is coming from and when they need new ideas, they need to go and see what the history is teaching them,” Julius Banda underscored.
The idea to have a Southern Sudanese archive started in 1970s with the late Mading de Garang, the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports in the then Southern Regional government.
In 1977, an archive department was created within the ministry. When South Sudan got its independence in 2011, the Norwegian Government offered to construct the South Sudan National Archive in commemoration of the long road to freedom.
The current dilapidated South Sudan National Archives is home to more than 10,000 records dated back to 1904.
Most of the files contain the establishment of chiefs’ courts, practices of customary laws, humanitarian operations and personalities of prominent South Sudanese.