SENATE on Friday approved a bill that seeks to establish the Rwanda Archives and Library Services Authority (RALSA), a national institution that will provide both public archives and library services.
The move comes at the time when the country is grappling with challenges of national archiving, especially the key documentation and literature about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In particular, the Authority will have to work round the clock to ensure that Rwanda prevails in its resolve to have the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) archives hosted in Rwanda. The archives are a vital part of the country’s history and are more of use to its nationals than a third party that has no emotional attachment to them.
Bringing the archives home is a matter that the new Authority should prioritise in the face of an adamant UN Security Council.
As the country marks the 20th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi this year, bringing the ICTR archives home is significant in many ways.
Archiving of Rwanda’s history, especially in light of literature about the Genocide is crucial in terms prevention of distortion of facts which Genocide deniers are trying hard to achieve.
The Authority must come up with a modern and systematic way of archiving this important literature that will shape the future of the country for centuries.
About its other responsibility of offering library services, the Authority will also have the task of finding a solution to the poor reading culture in the country through taking library services to the grassroots. Library services should not be a privilege of the urban elite but spread out across the country.
In particular, the Authority should look at community libraries as a key vessel to take the reading culture to the masses.