Rivonia Trial recordings now available online
On Friday 17 November 2017, the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) and the South African Department of Arts & Culture(link) celebrated UNESCO’s World Day for Audio-visual Heritage in Pretoria.
On this occasion, the restored digital recordings of the famous Rivonia Trial were published online and are now available to the public.
Following the French-South African Seasons (held in 2012 and 2013), a partnership was established between France and South Africa to restore and digitise so-called dictabelts, on which the Rivonia Trial was recorded in the early 1960s, to make these pieces of world heritage more accessible to the general population.
Dictabelts were a sound recording format intended for use in offices. In South Africa it was used most extensively in the court system. The Rivonia Trial was also recorded on dictabelts. Through the years the technology became obsolete and the dictabelt recorders fell into disuse in the 1970’s.
In 2013, the Department of Arts and Culture and National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) to implement the project. So far, 591 dictables have been restored and digitised.
Mr. Emmanuel Suquet, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of France in South Africa, represented both the French Embassy and INA. He underlined the importance of making technology available to preserve the recordings of the Rivonia Trial, and the strong ties between South Africa and France in the field of culture and heritage.
Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms. Makhotso Sotyu, thanked France for its cooperation: “This project is an illustration of the mutual trust between South Africa and France as well as France’s commitment to contributing to the transformation of our society.”
Rivonia trialist Mr. Andrew Mlangeni also attended the event.
For more information, the complete story of the digitisation process and the restoration of the dictabelts: