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Comorian Sound Archives

Digitisation of the National Sound Archives of the Union of Comoros

Iain Walker and the Fonoteca team—Luana Biadici (sound technician) and Orlando Sironi (IT technician)—arrived in Moroni Tuesday 27 September. The project was formally launched Wednesday morning in the presence of, in addition to the above, Ainouddine Sidi, director of the CNDRS; Damir Ben Ali, founding director and president of the administrative committee of the CNDRS; Yakina Djelane, local project manager; and, Ahmed Aboubakar, head of the sound archives. Also present were CNDRS and ORTC (Comorian Radio and Television) staff members who were to follow the training session; students who had assisted with the cataloguing; Fréderic Brignot, cultural attaché at the French Embassy which had funded the refurbishment of the sound archive premises; and representatives of the press.

Following the launch, the equipment was unpacked, checked, installed and tested. On Thursday morning the training began with the following participants:

Ahmed Aboubakar (CNDRS sound archives)

Fatouma Aboudou (CNDRS sound archives)

Hachimia Mohamed Bakri (CNDRS sound archives)

Raafatil Kalbi Ahmed (CNDRS Anjouan)

Fakhir Ben Soilihi (ORTC Archivist)

Zaina Soulé (ORTC Trainee)

Moussa Mogne Ali (IT Vulcanological Observatory, CNDRS)

Despite repeated power cuts, use of the CNDRS generator allowed for four hour training sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

On Monday 3 October, I trained the three CNDRS sound archivists and Moussa Mogne Ali on the use of the catalogue database in FileMaker Pro. This software was chosen over Excel for its more accessible and user-friendly interface; the data can subsequently be exported in Excel format for general use.

On Tuesday digitisation began under the supervision of the technicians. No significant problems were encountered although it was clear that supervision would be required until the various processes involved in digitising, cataloguing and archiving had been thoroughly assimilated. In particular, attention needs to be paid to the correct entry of data in the catalogue, and to the correct labelling of sound files deposited in the archives. With respect to the catalogue, it is hoped that the creators of the originals recordings, in particular Damir Ben Ali, will be able to provide clarification and supplementary information on the contents.

Digitisation continued under the supervision of the Fonoteca technicians, although a general strike in Moroni on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 October meant some of the trainees were unable to come to work. Nevertheless, the training session was judged successful: some 20 tapes were digitised during the week of supervised digitisation, and since the departure of the Fonoteca team the rhythm has been maintained. At this rhythm, the goal of digitising the archives within the 18 months of the project seems realisable.

A closing meeting was held on the morning of 11 October to present a summary of progress of the training mission and discuss future activities. Present were Ainouddine Sidi, Damir Ben Ali, the participants in the training sessions, and the secretary general of the Ministry of Education, Nourdine Abdallah.

Read the project description

Launch photo. From left to right: Mohamed Ahmed-Chamanga (CNDRS), Iain Walker (Oxford), Damir Ben Ali (President, administrative council, CNDRS), Aboubakar Ahmed Cheikh (director of paper archives, CNDRS), Fréderic Brignot (French Embassy), Ahmed Aboubakar (director of sound archives, CNDRS), Yakina Mohamed Djelane (project manager Comoros), Saif Youssouf Ahamada (trainee), Fakhir Ben Soilihi (ORTC archivist),  Ainouddine Sidi (director, CNDRS), Orlando Sironi (Fonoteca), Luana Biadici (Fonoteca), Fatouma Aboudou (sound archivist, CNDRS), Hachimia Mohamed Bakri (sound archivist, CNDRS).


photograph ©Moussa Hamada dit Tchiko 2011