Great Library of Africa: Nigeria professor’s answer to funding crisis

Image copyright National Museum Kenya Image caption Pupils share a short cut before Friday prayers at the headquarters of the Nairobi Public Library

A Nigerian scholar’s interest in African history has provided the answer to a persistent funding problem that has left much of Africa’s history lost to time.

But the man responsible says the Great Library of Africa, which will be one of five new African libraries, will not be limited to Africa.

S.K. Maduka, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, said he had waited for 50 years to open the library he has been wanting to build.

He hopes that his success will usher in a new wave of African library building plans across the continent.

Mr Maduka said African history was not being written “in the colonial archives” because that became the accepted reality and “these libraries will be record and a vehicle for documenting history in all its complexity.”

His library, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, will be a collaboration with the Sierra Leone Parliament and offer collections of audio-visual materials.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sign Language content will be available at the library, which Mr Maduka hopes will become an educational resource

An audio-visual resource will be in African languages. It will also have an interpreter to present audio or video content in different languages.

“The project will also be internationally usable. You will be able to read a well-known book in French or in German as well as in African languages.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The library will also be an available service to libraries across Africa

He hopes that it will create a practical model for African states to follow when it comes to building libraries for their citizens.

Mr Maduka also hopes it will become a global resource that will bring change to young people in Africa and beyond.

“As many countries need a library as needed; we want to make sure that the Great Library of Africa is not owned by one nation but will spread to many nations.”

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