March 2016

The French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) will officially hand over to the Republic of South Africa
 the latest batch of digitised audio files from the trial of Nelson Mandela and the leaders of the ANC

On March 17, 2016 the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) will officially hand over to the Republic of South Africa the latest batch of digitised audio files from the trial of Nelson Mandela and the leaders of the ANC (“Rivonia Trial”).

On this occasion, a training agreement will be signed with the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture.

On Thursday, March 17th, 2016 in Pretoria, Laurent Vallet, President of the French National Audiovisual Institute, will hand over the latest batch of digitised audio files to the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, in the presence of the French Ambassador to South Africa, Elisabeth Barbier. The 591 dictabelts were entrusted to INA in October 2014, in the context of an historic cooperation agreement signed between INA and the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture on 20 December 2013 to restore and preserve the audio records of the Rivonia Trial.

The dictabelts are flexible vinyl cylinders (totaling 230 hours of audio records) holding the recordings of the Rivonia Trial which took place in Pretoria between October 1963 and June 1964 at the Supreme Court. These 230 hours of audio recordings offer a unique testimony of the history of South Africa and the fight against the apartheid regime. The official handover of the last batch of digitized dictabelts is the final step in the preservation of this unique collection, which has been part of UNESCO’s “Memory of the World Programme” since 2007.

Laurent Vallet, President of INA : “Our teams at INA, in cooperation with the LARHRA (History research center of Rhône-Alpes) and the ENS Lyon (École Normale Supérieure), are extremely proud to offer their expertise and know-how in safeguarding such a universal testimony in the fight for human rights. This partnership is a perfect example of the international ambitions of INA, but it is above all an illustration of the mutual trust established between INA and the Republic of South Africa”.

Nathi Mthethwa, South African Minister of Arts and Culture : “Let me take the opportunity to thank France, INA and FIAT/IFTA, for assisting our country in restoring and digitising the Rivonia trial dictabelts, and in this way for contributing to our government’s endeavour to provide access to information for all. Armed with these digitized recordings of the Rivonia Trial, we shall be able to tell the full story of this trying period in our history with sound, words and silences to present and future generations in all its glory, its horror and ultimately its triumphs.”

Elisabeth Barbier, Ambassador of France to South Africa : “This partnership is part of the privileged relations between France and South Africa. Trust is at the core of our relationship, all the way back to the visit of President François Mitterrand to newly-elected President Nelson Mandela in July 1994. It is an honour for France to have contributed, thanks to INA, to preserving this exceptional heritage. The cooperation agreement is a sign of our will to contribute to the transformation of South Africa, in particular through the development of professional training”.

Renowned for their expertise in the preservation of audiovisual archives, INA used its collective know-how to safeguard and preserve this exceptional national treasure:

• Digitisation and restoration
In 2013 INA started digitising, restoring and inventorying the sound records of the dictabelts in close cooperation with the ENS Lyon (LARHRA) and more specifically with Henri Chamoux, who created the “archéophone” . The project also received the support of the International Federation of Television Archives (IFTA), as part of the “Save your Archive” programme.

• Training and skills transfer
The objective is to enable the teams from South African Ministry of Arts and Culture to digitise and restore the remaining dictabelts (estimated to be dozens of thousands) themselves. Four training sessions will take place between France and South Africa between the end of 2016 and 2017. The skills transfer programme will be officially launched on the occasion of Laurent Vallet’s trip to Pretoria through the signature of a partnership agreement between INA and the Republic of South Africa.

• Documenting and making the recordings available to the public
After the whole programme has been completed, South Africa will be free to use the digitised and restored records for any purpose. As part of its public service commitment, INA will make the digital archives of the 591 dictabelts available to researchers, students and teachers in all disciplines, who will be granted full access to this piece of global heritage in all INA resource centers (“Ina THEQUE”).

For more information, the complete story of the digitisation process and the restoration of the dictabelts:
https://vimeo.com/153908350 (French video)
https://vimeo.com/153908346 (English video)