Access For Who? A podcast on digital restitution

The Access For who? podcast hosted by Chao Tayiana Maina and Molemo Moiloa of Open Restitution Africa is a five part mini-series that looks to begin a conversation on digitalization of African heritage.

While digitisation is often considered a strategy for future oriented safe keeping, distribution and greater engagement, they ask – for who? And for what purposes? And are we making decisions about digitisation that ensure these objectives are met in ethical, equitable ways? 

In order to explore, and think together about the difficult questions that digitisation of African heritage brings to the fore they have spoken with practitioners based on the continent across the spectrum of heritage, digital, intellectual property and museum work – among them Temi Odumosu, Nothando Migogo, Neema Iyer, Minne Atairu, Kolawole Olatubosun,  Golda Ha-Eiros, Andrea Wallace, Samba Yonga and Angela Okune.

This podcast is brought to you by the Open Restitution Africa project, a collaboration between African Digital Heritage and Andani.Africa. 

Episode 1: Digital From an African perspective

In this episode we begin by reflecting on the opportunities that digital technology presents for African societies while confronting the inequalities and biases it entrenches. We explore notions of digital access and digital neutrality in the context of African languages, histories and knowledge systems  as we reflect on what it means to create equitable digital futures within and outside museum spaces.


Temi Odumosu, Molemo Moiloa, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Neema Iyer, Chao Tayiana

Episode 2.1: Digital Collections Pt 1

This episode takes a deep dive into the origins of museum practice and the colonial origins of museum collections. How did Western museums end up amassing hundreds of thousands of objects ? How does this legacy influence digitisation today? We explore  ways in which African museum practitioners are going beyond these entrenched legacies to create innovative approaches that center indigenous knowledge and prioritize people over objects.


Temi Odumosu, Molemo Moiloa, Golda Ha-Eiros, Samba Yonga, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Chao Tayiana

Episode 2.2: Digital Collections Pt 2

In this episode we reflect on digital practice as a form of repair, care and knowledge creation.  Faced with challenges around access to data, absence of archives and physical removal of objects from communities – How are digital collections creating room for new African narratives and imaginations? What potential does digital restitution hold for African heritage? And how can this contribute to the physical return of artifacts?


Temi Odumosu, Minne Atairu, Molemo Moiloa, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Samba Yonga, Mulenga Kapwepwe, Neema Iyer, Chao Tayiana

Episode 3: Ownership &  Intellectual Property

This episode explores the complex and entangled questions around legal ownership of digital collections in the face of already contested physical collections. While Western IP systems are built around individual ownership, indigenous knowledge systems are designed to have communal and collective benefits. What limitations and dangers does this present in the context of mass digitisation? Who has the right to make digital copies in the first place? And how can we imagine legal ownership outside Western oriented frameworks?


Nothando Migogo, Molemo Moiloa, Chao Tayiana, Andrea Wallace, Mulenga Kapwepwe

Episode 4: African Data Futures

As we move towards the end of the series we ask – How can we build sustainable digital infrastructure that is people centered and Africa centered? We reflect on indigenous data sovereignty, data stewardship and creative strategies towards collective care for digital data. Positing that digital collections are not a point of reversal to an idealized past but rather a point of departure towards a collectively imagined future.


Angela Okune, Temi Odumosu, Minne Atairu, Andrea Wallace, Molemo Moiloa, Neema Iyer, Chao Tayiana

About Open Restitution Africa

The Open Restitution Africa project founded by Molemo Moiloa and Chao Tayiana Maina is a project that seeks to gather data on current restitution processes across the African continent,  serve as a portal of case studies and best practice examples, and encourage a data-informed and in-depth debate on the complexities, responsibilities and ethical imperatives of restitution.

The project is driven by the need to make central and accessible the breadth of knowledge being built around restitution debates, but also to aid the need for an Africa-centric approach that is driven by Africans themselves. 

This includes:

  • Encouraging a culture of transparency and accountability in restitution issues. 
  • Making existing knowledge, often being developed in Euro-American institutions, more accessible to Africans. 
  • Mainstreaming debates and knowledge being developed in Africa.
  • Developing open, data-driven resources to enable more informed positions and debates.

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