I’ve always been fascinated by Nigerian history. As a child, I would spend hours reading my dad’s old newspapers, engrossed in a world vastly different from the one I knew. These newspapers held a treasure trove of stories, and those related to the Nigerian Civil War particularly intrigued me. The powerful narratives I found in those newspapers played a crucial role in shaping my writing skills. For a brief period, I even dreamt of becoming a journalist.
However, with the rise of the internet, I soon realized that any stories I wrote might only be read once and then forgotten. Would people even remember my name or be able to reference the hard work I invested in my writing, potentially risking my life in the process? I got my answer when we started selling our old newspapers to street vendors known as “abokis.” They would then resell these historical records to people frying and selling akara (a popular Nigerian snack) and yams by the roadside. Tears.
The transition to blogging seemed inevitable, but it left a sense of loss. Newspapers, especially in the past, were some of the most authentic and reliable sources of information in Nigeria. The dedicated journalists who put in hours of work might not have imagined their pieces ending up soaked in hot oil from pepper sauce or wrapped around freshly fried yams consumed by schoolchildren.
As it turns out, I was not the only one contemplating the short lifespan of such invaluable resources. Fu’ad Lawal recognized this issue and proposed a unique solution – Archivi.ng. This digital library, spearheaded by Lawal, seeks to preserve Nigeria’s history by scanning and uploading old newspapers. It’s a dream come true for anyone interested in Nigerian history, as it provides access to newspapers from the past 50 years with just a few clicks.
Archivi.ng is the brainchild of Fu’ad Lawal, a Nigerian entrepreneur who embarked on this project after coming across a throwback video showcasing the court proceedings that culminated in the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other members of the Ogoni 9. Lawal’s epiphany was that many pivotal historical events in Nigeria were exclusively documented in old newspapers, making them difficult – if not impossible – to access.
Archivi.ng’s mission is clear: to make old Nigerian newspapers accessible to everyone online. The team has already scanned over 18,000 newspapers, comprising a staggering 360,000 pages spanning from January 1960 to December 2010. The ultimate goal is to scan and upload newspapers from the last century. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but it holds immense promise.
Archivi.ng has a broad spectrum of applications in Nigerian society today. Students can use it for research on various topics, from the Nigerian Civil War to the growth of Nollywood or the environmental impact of the oil industry. For researchers, Archivi.ng offers a wealth of primary sources for their work, whether it’s newspaper articles about historical events or speeches and interviews delivered by Nigerian political leaders. Even journalists can find valuable background information and expert quotes for their stories.
Archivi.ng is a free and user-friendly website and is already making a substantial difference in how Nigerians engage with their past. It’s not merely a repository of historical records; it’s a key player in preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage. Old newspapers serve as priceless records of the nation’s history and culture, and Archivi.ng is ensuring their preservation for generations to come. Whether you’re a student seeking knowledge, a researcher in pursuit of primary sources, or just a curious soul interested in Nigerian history, Archivi.ng has something to offer.
The team behind Archivi.ng has big plans for the future. Despite the challenges, they aspire to make Archivi.ng the definitive digital archive of Nigerian history. One of the primary challenges is the cost associated with scanning and uploading newspapers. This process is time-consuming and expensive. Also, locating old newspapers in good condition can be a daunting task. Nonetheless, the Archivi.ng team is unwavering in its commitment to making Nigerian history more accessible. They are actively addressing these challenges and developing new features, including a search function that enables users to find specific keywords or phrases in the newspapers.
Archivi.ng is a truly unique and important project, and it is one that deserves our support. It represents a remarkable effort to bridge the gap between Nigeria’s rich history and the digital age. It breathes new life into old newspapers and offers a gateway for current and future generations to explore, learn, and cherish their country’s complex past. Archivi.ng provides free access to an invaluable resource, but the team relies on donations to keep it running. If you’re interested in supporting this important project, you can donate on the website. Your support will contribute to the preservation of Nigeria’s history and cultural heritage.