A Race to Digitize

Archivists race to digitize slavery records before the history is lost (audio)
Rupa Shenoy, April 04, 2019, Public Radio International



Abu Koroma is the archivist in training at the National Archives of Sierra Leone — and he’ll remain the archivist in training until one of the two senior archivists retire.

“That is how it is done,” he laughed.

When Koroma started at the archives in 2004, Sierra Leone was emerging from civil war. He was fresh out of high school and his parents had died, so he needed the small salary badly. And the archives fascinated Koroma. They date back to the first treaty regional leaders made with British colonists in 1788. After Britain outlawed participation in the slave trade in 1807, British administrators in colonial Sierra Leone filled books with descriptions of each liberated African.

“Most times when I’m in the archives alone, I think I want to be a professor, and I will start writing books,” Koroma said.

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