Water leaks destroy Namibian history

05 February 2018 | History

The National Library and National Archives in Windhoek are closed to the public until further notice because of emergency plumbing repairs.

According to the ministry of education, the repairs started on 8 January.

In August 2017, Namibian Sun published an article about the lack of action from top management after staff had repeatedly complained about the deteriorating condition of the building.

A spokesperson for the education ministry, Absalom Absalom, confirmed that the work was ongoing, despite media reports to the contrary.

“Obviously major renovations are needed and we are ready for those, it is a matter of a budget to be supplied.

But for now, the repairs are ongoing,” he said.

Martha Nakanyala, acting chief at the National Archives, earlier said that repeated pipe bursts had damaged original materials documenting Namibian history.

“I started working here in 2002 until 2013.

I came back last year [2016] and the situation has not improved. Since 2007, we have lodged complaints of the faulty pipes that continue to leak and yet, no action has been taken,” she said at the time. Staff also complained about having to run around with buckets to stop the leaking water from ruining the historic materials.

The building holds about 5 600 maps, 61 000 photographs, 2 000 audio cassettes, 450 films and a complete collection of all local newspapers from 1897 to 1962.

Letters and reports dating back to German and South African rule can also be found at the archives. The documents are originals and no duplicates are available.

The ministry apologised for any inconvenience caused and “ensured stakeholders they are working tirelessly to ensure that the library and the archives are reopened to the public soon.”

The National Archives of Namibia collects and preserves the nation's history and unpublished documentary heritage and provides training in records management to all government offices.

It shares a building with the National Library of Namibia.

TUNOHOLE MUNGOBA

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