Research & Documentation Centre (RDC)

Asmara, Eritrea

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INTRODUCTION


Eritreans, as a people, are very conscious of the preservation of our heritage and culture. During the war of national liberation, books were buried, articles and documents were hidden underground or in caves or moved out of the country and thus out of reach of the occupying Ethiopian regime.

There are many parchments and icons located in monasteries, churches and mosques. These  precious documents and materials are among the oldest records in our country. Their content is not only religious but also contains a historic record of community affairs.  

The Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) always placed great importance on the preservation of its documents. In the liberated areas of Eritrea various research and documentation centres were established early in the armed struggle for independence. By  1975, the Department of Information of the EPLF had started to collect its publications and other relevant documents.In 1976, the Department of Politicization, Education and Culture assigned a research team and began identifying key materials, gathering data and collecting research information on Eritrea. The need for a well-organized documentation centre was emphasized in 1979, when the clandestine radio broadcast program, the Voice of the Masses was initiated.

The Research and Information Centre of Eritrea (RICE) was established in February 1979, following an international symposium convened in London by the renowned Africanist  scholar and writer, Basil Davidson. RICE was a foreign-based, autonomous institute entrusted with responsibility to conduct research and to collect and disseminate information on Eritrea. Italy was selected as the initial headquarters since there was already a large collection of literature on Eritrea there.

 RICE branches were set up within Eritrea, Europe and the US. Scholars of the Horn and Eritrean scholars in exile also contributed to the activities of RICE and the publication of new materials on Eritrea, such as the Eritrea Information magazine (1979-1988) and the first Journal of Eritrean Studies (JES, 1986-1991). RICE conducted considerable research on Eritrean culture and history.

After the end of the liberation struggle in 1991, the name RICE was changed to RDC (Research and Documentation Centre). In August 1992, it was decided to incorporate the collections of the Department of Information and Department of Politicization, Education and Culture into the  RICE collection.

 The RDC is responsible not only for records under its custody but also for those of all the ministries and departments of the government. In 1994, the RDC set out clear objectives and shouldered the responsibility of establishing a future National Archive. Since Eritrea has a history of successive colonial occupations, it has never had its own national archive for the  preservation of its unique cultural heritage. Thus, the development of the centre is vital to the history of the country. 

OBJECTIVES of the RDC are:-

 1. To identify, select, acquire, organize, and preserve Eritrean historical records.

 2. To upgrade and improve existing records and archives management capacity  (RAM) at the national level.

 3. To strengthen and restructure the RDC in preparation for the  establishment of a National Archive and related regional archives.

 4. To identify and implement the best and most appropriate options for preservation.

 5. To foster public awareness of the importance of documentation throughout our society.

 6. To make documents easily accessible to the general public and researchers.

 

The main objective of RDC remains its mission to build a National Archive and meantime to increase technological standards, update equipment and upgrade human resources.

 

Formats

The documents that are maintained in the RDC presently have the following different formats.

  • Written Records
  • Audio-visual Records
  • Photographic Records
  • Cartographic Records

 

  Depending on this and the subject matter, archival items are arranged in a number of 

  collections. 

 

The Future

RDC has its long and short-term plans; some of which are:

    1- To organize training programs on records and archive management.

    2-  To enhance public awareness of the importance of archives the preservation           ddddof national culture and history.

    3- To make an inventory of Eritrean archival materials both in the country and abroad.

    4- To transfer selected materials to the RDC for safe-keeping.

    5- To organize the records which are selectively transferred and make them accessible   

       to researchers.

    6-  To set up regional documentation centres.

    7- And vitally, to establish an Eritrean National Archive .

 

 

                     CONTACT INFORMATION

 

                      The Research and Documentation Centre

 P.O.Boxs897
              Asmara,
kEritrea
              Tel.:
j  +291-1-122808
                     Fax:
8 +291-1-122902
                         E-mail: rdc@eol.com.er


2002 RDC     All Rights Reserved.