(Jamaica Observer) The complete archives of the BBC Caribbean broadcasts from 1998 to 2011 have been donated to the University of the West Indies (UWI) to be used by researchers there and the people of the Caribbean.
The endowment of more than 3,000 hours of programmes was symbolically presented to the UWI library at a function on its Mona campus last Friday.
UWI Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Harris, in receiving the archives, thanked the BBC for its confidence in the university to house the rich resource of major news stories and developments in the region.
“A university is not only about education and research, but a university is a repository of a civilisation’s history,” Prof Harris noted, while urging the region’s governments to bear this in mind when considering funding for the institution.
The BBC Caribbean Service closed in March this year, and Prof Harris said the archives would be available on all UWI campuses.
Debbie Ransome, former head of BBC Caribbean who spearheaded the gift to the UWI, thanked the team of archivists and librarians, both from the BBC and the UWI, who made possible the transfer of the historic material.
She gave the audience a taste of the archives by playing clips of historic moments in Caribbean history, including the 1983 coup in Grenada, the 1990 coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago, the devastation of Jamaica by Hurricane Gilbert in 1998, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
She noted that highlights of BBC Caribbean programmes were still available on the BBC’s heritage website.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica Howard Drake described the donation of the archives as a wonderful accompaniment to the relationship shared between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
According to deputy dean of the UWI’s Faculty of Humanities and Education Prof Wainbinte Wairboko, the housing of the archives at the UWI library would result in foreign exchange savings for the country, as scholars, journalists and other researchers would not have to visit the United Kingdom to access the material.
“The value of the archive to the historian is immense, immeasurable; it has no price,” he said.