Mallory Primm
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The Nerd in Me

June 16, 2009 @ 7:05 AM | Permalink

Although my life is incredibly laid back and I enjoy having adventures, I do sometimes pay homage to the American tax payers and actually do some research. I particularly like going to the University of Swaziland Library and digging through the Swazana section. Its stoked full of all old students’ theses and books and papers, published and unpublished, about Swaziland. I was really interested to find a few books/documents written by fellow Fulbrighters to Swaziland. One book was written by a fellow Berkeley student. I was quietly excited by the coincidence of this, being miles away in a restricted section of a little known library reading the acknowledgment section of a book which thanked my roomate’s old anthropology professor, Laura Nader.

The Swazana section of the Mbabane central library is an adventure. There is file upon file marked with stickers that say, HIV, Justice, Economy, UN Publications. Sometimes the files are empty; sometimes they’re jammed with newspaper clippings. I’m not quite sure who gets to decide which newspaper articles make it into the library and which don’t, but it is always an adventure. I’m still not sure how the Swazana section of the Mbabane library actually works though, because every time I go to this tiny, eight foot by eight foot room I get scolded for not following the proper protocol.

The most impressive nerd structure in Swaziland has to be the National Archives. A beautiful building being refurbished, it stands behind the Parliament building, just past the sign that says “Drive Slowly Parliament in Session,” (which is there permenently, regardless if Parliament is actually in session). No one is in the building and the employees lead you through a maze of hallways, doors, passageways and offices for no particular reason.

In order to access the documents and books in the National Archives you need clearance. To get clearance you must fill out, in duplicate of course, an “Application for Access to the Swaziland National Archives,” which asks basic questions about you and your research.

Question 11 reads: “Are you going to deposit a copy of your completed research to the National Archives?”

Question 12 reads: “If not state the reason of violating Act No. 5 of 1971.”

Then you get an official stamp and someone will help you find what you need. Unfortunately, do to refurbishments, not all the books/documents are in any particular order, so sometimes It takes a while to look through the rollable stacks of books (like the main stacks at the UC Berkeley Library) to find what you need. Eventually I did find what I was looking for: The Government Gazzette covering all acts and proclamations from 1907 to 1913. This book was actually published in 1913, and I felt very much like Tom Hanks in Angles and Demons when rifling through it.

So, while any normal visitor to Swaziland would spend very little times indoors, given the beautiful landscapes and endless choice of hikes, valleys, mountains and streams, some of us will always be nerds and will always find the library, no matter where we go.

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A good lesson for us all

Nicolle OConnor on Country Western and other Music in Swaziland 2009-06-11

just wondering if you have published any results?

David Broska on Into the Field 2010-06-19
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