Launch of the Oral History Framework | Western Cape Government



Launch of the Oral History Framework

23 September 2015

Speech by Minister of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais

All protocol observed.

Goeie more, good day, molweni

It gives me great pleasure to address you at this significant launch of the Department’s Oral History Framework.

Robert Penn Warren once said, “History cannot give us a programme for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future”. It is with this quote in mind that I share with you the importance of history and more specifically oral history.

Our history need not be lost as older generations pass on. We have a duty to keep our histories alive in our communities and within government so that future generations can celebrate our heritage. The documenting of oral histories is one way in which the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport ensures that past experiences are not lost, but rather made available to future generations.

Mondelinge geskiedenis is 'n proses waartydens inligting onthul word deur ’n onderhoud met 'n persoon te voer oor sy of haar herinneringe van vorige ervarings en dit dan aan te teken vir gebruik deur toekomstige geslagte.
In Suid-Afrika het mondelinge geskiedenis ’n meganisme geword wat transformasie fasiliteer en waardeur wanbalanse van die verlede behandel word. Dis ook 'n terapeutiese meganisme om Suid-Afrika se onstuimige verlede te behandel. Dit het die Departement van Kultuursake en Sport en ander departemente van die Wes-Kaapse Regering gemotiveer om mondelinge geskiedenis te gebruik om hul mandate uit te voer en om te verseker dat hul werk nie van historiese en huidige samelewingspatrone geskei word nie.

While the use of oral history is well defined and structured in the academic environment, this has not come into fruition in the public domain in South Africa. As a result museums, archives and other institutions have not developed a framework to guide the production, utilisation and storage of oral history material. The recording, storing and subsequent use of oral history by components of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and other Departments of the Western Cape Government has for a long time been a challenge. This has resulted in a situation where oral history materials are not shared within the department and with other stakeholders.

To redress these challenges, I am proud to announce that The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has therefore developed an Oral History Framework. The framework:

  • provides minimum standards and guidelines for staff who are conducting oral history and processes associated with it;
  • clarifies roles that various departments play in oral history processes;
  • establish a transversal framework that regulates legalities that are associated with the oral history recording; and
  • establish a  provincial database of oral histories to be housed in the Western Cape Archives and Records Service.

I encourage all stakeholders: the public, governmental departments, affiliated museums, archives and academic institutions to make use of the guidelines presented in the department’s Oral History Framework as there is a dire need to effectively and efficiently record oral histories in the province.

As we launch the Oral History Framework, it is fitting that a contribution is being made to the Provincial Archives that will assist in filling the gaps in our history.  There are many testimonies of our past that are still to be collected and kept at the archives for the use of researchers and others curious about the past.

Today, we hand over interviews that were recorded in the making of a new exhibition on the life of Dulcie September.  We also launch this new travelling exhibition today as part of changing our heritage landscape in ways that improve social inclusion.  

Dulcie September was a woman who hailed from Athlone in the Cape Flats and worked for the freedom we enjoy in South Africa today.  She is someone that others can identify with, coming from humble beginnings herself.

This is an exhibition of archive material and it inspires ordinary people to understand the enduring value of their own documents, maps and pictures.  We gain insight into Dulcie September’s life through her family’s personal archive, some police records, records from Dulcie’s Paris office and newspaper clippings. These are memories and they tell a story.

We are thankful to Dulcie September’s family and friends, some of whom are here today, who were very generous with their time and their records as we prepared this exhibition.

It is hoped that visitors to the exhibition will see the value in their own personal archives and will also consider sharing it with the public, through donation to the provincial archives so that the range of narratives expands to reflect and represent  more of our communities.

I thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for Anroux Marais, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 083 504 1171