Centre for Digital Archive of African Mother Tongue Languages is a newly established centre, created to serve as the repository of languages in Sub-Saharan Africa. CDAAMTL studies the associative relationship among languages and de-systematizes the language hierarchy while focusing on the reconstruction of prehistory in Africa. The study of African history as an independent and autonomous focus of scholarship is a recent development. Until the late colonial period, it was widely believed among Western historians that Africa, south of the Sahara, had no “civilization” and thus no history. Others insisted that even if there were events of a historical nature, such a history was unknown and unknowable, since African societies, for the most part, were non-literate and as such left no records that historians could study. The era of decolonization and the immediate post-independence years witnessed a growing rank of Africanists vigorously reject this Eurocentric and anti-African historical epistemology that privileged civilization and written sources as the only rational bases for historical scholarship and that denied the possibility of civilization and history to small-scale and non-literate societies dominant in Africa. Using an array of sources, these scholars were successful in showing that Africa not only had a history but that its history and the writing of it date back to ancient Antiquity. Ancient and classical writers wrote about Africa, even though their writings were unsystematic. They were followed by Islamic and Arabic writers, who left first- or secondhand accounts of African states and societies that have continued to prove valuable for scholars of African history. The next phase of African historiography was dominated by European traders, travelers, as well as missionaries and other adventurers, whose accounts of Africa, while generally tendentious and Eurocentric, remain major sources for the reconstruction of the African past. European conquest and domination spawned a new era of colonial historiography that justified European imperialism and espoused the ideology of a savage Africa in need of European civilization and tutelage. With decolonization and independence came the era of nationalist and liberalist historiography which rejected the notion of a barbaric and static Africa “without history.” It sought to restore autonomy and initiative to the Africans, as well as authenticity and respectability to the historicity of the African past. Rejecting the privileging of written sources, it argued for and adopted the disciplined, rigorous, and corroborative use of a variety of sources and multidisciplinary methods from archaeology, ethnography, anthropology, linguistics, and art history to oral traditions.
Digital Humanities interprets the cultural and social impact of new media and information technologies–the fundamental components of the new information age–as well as creates and applies these technologies to answer cultural, social, historical, and philological questions, both those traditionally conceived and those only enabled by new technologies.
Digital Humanities is a natural outgrowth and expansion of the traditional scope of the Humanities, not a replacement or rejection of traditional humanistic inquiry. In fact, the role of the humanist is critical at this historic moment, as our cultural legacy is migrated to digital formats and our relation to knowledge, cultural material, technology, and society is radically re-conceptualized.
The mere use of digital tools for the purpose of humanistic research and communication does not qualify as Digital Humanities. Nor, as already noted, is Digital Humanities to be understood as the study of digital artifacts, new media, or contemporary culture in place of physical artifacts, old media, or historical culture. On the contrary, Digital Humanities understands its object of study as the entire human record, from prehistory to the present. This is why fields such as classics and archaeology have played just as important a role in the development of Digital Humanities as has, for example, media studies. This is also why some of the major sectors of Digital Humanities research extend outside the traditional core of the humanities to embrace quantitative methods from the social and natural sciences as well as techniques and modes of thinking from the arts.