Eastern African Centre for Research on Oral Traditions and African National Languages (en français, le Centre est africain pour la recherche sur les traditions orales et les langues nationales africaines)

EACROTANAL was one of several InterAfrican agencies dealing with African languages. It was based in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

It was closed in 1994, but there is apparently an effort to restart it. See: "Revive African languages centre - minister" on the IPPMedia site at http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2006/02/27/60958.html

Sections of 2000 report by OAU mentioning EACROTANAL

A report from a sysmposium on cultural policy in Africa* discusses the problems and failure of EACROTANAL:

EACROTANAL : East African Center for Research on Oral Traditions and African National Languages (Zanzibar-Tanzania)

190. The Eastern African Center for Research in Oral Traditions and African National Languages (EACROTANAL) was set up in 1977 with the objective of promoting research, study and dissemination of oral traditions and African national languages at a sub-regional level.

191. Todate, the following remaining 9 states are members of EACROTANAL
Burundi, Comoro, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania. The Centre recorded some noteworthy achievements in the early 1980s. then it lost its momentum and began to decline slowly but systematically until it was no longer functional.

Budget and financement

192. EACROTANAL was envisaged to have three main sources of income, namely:
- Contributions from member states ;
- Assistance from UNESCO, OAU and donor agencies ;
- Income-generating (self-reliance) schemes.

193. Contributions from member states were the most crucial. The contribution rates were based on the OAU formula ; hence, they took into account the size of the country, its population, and its economy.

194. lf every member states had honored its commitment, the total contributions would have amounted to almost two thirds of the total annual budget of about US $ 400,000. Unfortunately, this was not to be. In the 1980s only Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania paid up their contributions consistently. Cries of lack of funds and members’ failure to remit their contribution appear consistently in all the secretariat report and documents throughout the 1980s.

195. At one time some member countries complained that shortage of foreign currency contributed to the failure to remit their contributions. It was therefore decided to open local accounts in each member state so that member countries could contribute a half of their dues in local currency. Yet even this trick did not work; many countries still continued to default on their payments.

196. EACROTANAL managed to establish links with more than 33 cultural organizations and institutions. Between 1977 and 1987, EACROTANAL received generous financial support from various sources: UNESCO, Sida Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and the OAU.

197. These donors would probably have continued to help had EACROTANAL and the member states shown more initiative and greater efforts at self-reliance. Unfortunately, these efforts were not greeted with reciprocal zeal on the part of EACROTANAL.

Income generating activities

198. Five income generating projects were envisaged:
a) Meeting and Conference facilities
b) Lodging and Cafeteria facilities
c) Sales and exhibition Museum
d) Editing & Publishing
e) Audio-Visual Unit

199. Unfortunately, the Centre collapsed before these activities (except d) could really take off.

200. The following five factors, among others, have contributed to the steady retrogression and eventual failure of EACROTANAL.
- Weaknesses in the Charter that established the Centre;
- Perennial shortage of funds ;
- Leadership problems;
- Staffing problems ;
- Political interference.

201. Almost all of these factors had something to do with the multilateral set-up and funding of the Centre.

The Nature and Functions of EACROTANAL

202. The Charter is not clear whether EACROTANAL’s primary mandate is to conduct research or to sponsor, coordinate and facilitate research. The Centre apparently tried to carry out both objectives without the means or the human resources to do so, and ended up achieving neither. The following factors also seems to have contributed to this state of affairs.

  1. The general economic and political environment was not conducive. (economic slump, war or political upheavals);
  2. Some members probably did not feel that they were benefiting adequately from the Center's activities;
  3. The apparent mismanagement of the Centre, culminating in the abscondment of the Executive Director in 1994, also made members lose faith in EACROTANAL;
  4. It is argued by some member states that the contributions were too high for some of the countries; lower rates would have drawn a more positive response;
  5. Finally and most important, political will and commitment to the Centre and, for that matter, to African cultures and languages, seems to have been inadequate or lacking among some of the responsible leaders of the member states. Hence, whenever a committed leader was in power, the Centre would enjoy patronage, but when a new leader (be it a president or a minister for Culture) took over, the patronage would be withdrawn and contributions would cease. Disregard for our cultures and languages, i.e. for our being, is unfortunately a pan-African sickness; and the failure of EACROTANAL is in part a reflection of this malaise.

203. Multilateral financing, as the experience of EACROTANAL reveals, has a number of pitfalls that ought to be clearly addressed in the charters that set up such organizations. Hence, multilateral financing, while welcome and necessary, cannot possibly be a panacea to the problems of cultural financing.

* Source: Organisation of African Unity. 2000. "Final Report. Symposium on the Policies, Strategies and Experiences in the Financing of Culture in Africa, 5-9 June 2000, Palais de la Culture, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire." RAP/F.C./006.Rev.1 http://ocpa.irmo.hr/resources/docs/Abidjan_Final_Report-en.pdf

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