‘Stories from the Ashes’ Project: Reviving Africa’s Lost Literary History

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jagger library african literature

Background on Jagger Library Fire

On April 18, 2021, the Jagger Library, located at the University of Cape Town, suffered a devastating fire that perils Africa’s literary history. The library housed special collections, manuscripts, and archives crucial to preserving African stories.

‘Stories from the Ashes’ Project

UCT and DStv Africa launched the ‘Stories from the Ashes’ project to commemorate the second anniversary of the Jagger Library fire. The project aimed to revive and retell the stories lost in the fire, showing that much can be salvaged, achieved, and rebuilt through collaboration and creativity.

Unique Ink from Ashes and Remnants

Five tonnes of ashes and remnants from the Jagger Library’s burned volumes of African studies literature were collected by DStv Africa and converted into a unique ink for writing new tales. The resulting book, ‘Stories From the Ashes: Africa’s Story Throughout the Last Millennium,’ is a reminder of the commitment to restoring what was lost for future generations.

Personal Reflections from Distinguished UCT Alumni

This book contains the personal reflections of notable UCT alums, including Justice Albie Sachs, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Nkosinathi Biko, Prof. Timm Hoffman, Prof. June Bam-Hutchinson, Carl Manlan, Prof. Joan Hambidge, and Musa Ngqungwana. Politics, Gender and Identity, African History and Identity, Performing Arts, Literature, Language and Linguistics, Migration, African Diaspora, and African Youth are covered.

Symbol of Resilience and Determination

The ‘Stories from the Ashes’ initiative exemplifies the tenacity and resolve of UCT and DStv to preserve and resurrect African stories that were believed to be lost forever. It serves as a symbol of optimism and a reminder of the significance of collaboration and innovation in reconstructing what was destroyed. The initiative has demonstrated that, despite tragedies, it is possible to recover, rebuild, and continue to communicate important historical stories to future generations.

Environmentalist and Outdoor Enthusiast. Amanda is a nature-loving, energetic, and enthusiastic environmentalist who has dedicated her life to exploring and protecting Cape Town's stunning natural landscapes. She is an experienced hiker, wildlife enthusiast, and advocate for sustainable tourism.

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