On Friday 13 May towards 4pm, a large truck arrived at the back entrance of the UWC Main Library. It was bearing 60 boxes of books - boxes marked "Books for Africa". The marking on the boxes is significant as the consignment contained books from, of and about Africa, now given back to Africa.
Prof Allen Isaacman, an internationally renowned African Studies scholar, has donated to the University his extensive library of materials on Lusophone Africa, probably the largest privately owned collection. Books for Africa is the name of the organization that had shipped the collection from University of Minnesota. A key broker for this phenomenal gift has been Prof. Premesh Lalu, who completed his PhD at Minnesota under the supervision of Prof. Isaacman.
This remarkable collection of books, ephemera, posters and serials represents the concentrated and systematic gathering of both currently available and scarce out of print publications for more than 40 years. Its primary concentration is on Mozambique. Strong coverage for other states in Southern Africa provides access to similar topical coverage in the social sciences and history.
Forty leather-bound volumes of collected document include contemporary accounts under colonial administration and Independence, 19th century descriptions and travel narratives, and documentation created and issued by FRELIMO.
Highlights from the secondary works are the entire series of Heinemann African Social History and the Ohio University New African History, both co-edited by Prof. Isaacman, alongside nearly 2,000 monographs in Portuguese, English, literary works.
The Library acknowledges this hugely important gift from Prof. Isaacman and will be re-purposing a section of the area alongside Special Collections and the Postgraduate Resource Centre to house the Allen Isaacman African Studies collection. Initially the material will be sorted and thereafter descriptive records will be prepared for national and international catalogues. The implication is that UWC is set to become an important destination for scholars and students pursuing research on Mozambique and Angola.
This gift also gives an enormous boost to the Library which is looking to strengthen its collections and services in support of UWC research niche areas. Samuel Ncoyini, Special Collections Librarian, has recently received training in working with primary sources and will be organizing and managing the Isaacman collection.
UWC Main Library