INTEGRATING LOCAL KNOWLEDGE IN ETHIOPIAN

Author : Belle Asante Taristani, Simone Taristani

Year : 2010

African Study Monographs, Suppl.41: 5-18, March 2010 5
INTEGRATING LOCAL KNOWLEDGE IN ETHIOPIAN
ARCHIVES:
MUSIC AND MANUSCRIPTS IN THE COLLECTION
OF ABDULAHI ALI SHERIF
Belle Asante TARSITANI
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Simone TARSITANI
Department of Music, The Open University, UK
ABSTRACT Since the early 1990s, important examples of Harari tangible and oral cultural
heritage were preserved in the private home museum of Abdulahi Ali Sherif in Harar, Ethiopia.
The volume and quality of audio recordings of musical and ritual practices, along with the
manuscripts from this collection indicate how a resourceful individual, when supported by a
community of local patrons, can be instrumental in conserving heritage in a local archive, even
in the absence of major funding sources. This case study presents a review of Mr. Sherif’s
museum collection and explores pertinent challenges in conservation and curatorship of the
private holdings. Having followed the transformation of the collection to a public-private
partnership,
the authors consider the wider implications of collaborations in the management
of archives in regional museums in Ethiopia. This research employs examples of various forms
of documentation used in the analysis of local Islamic ritual practices to show that local actors
are integral to the sustainable management of archives. The collaborations involving the
collection
of music and manuscripts in the Sherif collection are presented as exemplary of how
a community-run museum project can be a particularly appropriate and accessible venue to
engage audiences in the legacies found in archives.

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