Minister Anroux Marais' speech at VOC Foundation Award to Archives ceremony
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
VOC FOUNDATION AWARD TO WCARS CEREMONY
8 NOVEMBER 2018
Good morning, molweni nonke, goeiemôre,
The history of South Africa is indeed culturally rich while at the same time interesting and fascinating. Much of this history is preserved and accessed within the Western Cape Archives and Records Service, a Directorate of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport.
Written historical sources tell us that the Cape Colony was established in 1652 by Jan Van Riebeeck, as a refreshment station to supply the ships of a mercantile company, the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) on their way to trade in East Asia. The VOC went further than that though and established a colony at the Cape. I am proud that DCAS, is undertaking an Oral History Initiative which seeks to get reliable oral histories from various communities to supplement written experiences such as the establishment of the Cape Colony.
Despite the sad past and suffering brought by the VOC to the various territories they colonized, its history is a curiosity to many researchers. The VOC is known to have an extensive information network found in the Netherlands and former colonies including South Africa at the Western Cape Archives and Records Service.
Arguably the most valuable archival groups in the Archive, in terms of research interest, is the Archives of the Political Council (C) and its related archival groups such as the Landdrost records of Stellenbosch (1/STB), Swellendam (1/SWM) and Graaff-Reinet (1/GR), the Court of Justice (CJ) and the Orphan Chamber (MOOC). These represent the records created by the officials of the VOC.
The Council of Policy archival group provides insight into the administrative function of the VOC and its role in Cape society. The archival group has 41 series covering various subjects and comprises 94 linear metres of which the Resolutions series of 15 linear metres was transcribed by the Cape participants to the Towards a New Age of Partnership (TANAP) Project. The partnership is between historians and academic institutions from (I quote) “all the places involved in the VOC encounter”. The aim of the project is mainly to enable the “places” to jointly participate in preserving, providing digital access and linking the VOC records in their custody.
Concurrent with the TANAP project, the National Archives of the Netherlands and the Dutch National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) started an archival project known as the Memory of the World programme. Which promotes the same aim as the TANAP. Our Archives is a participant in this programme as evident in the inscription of the Cape Archive VOC collection to the UNESCO Memory of the World. This inscription was formalised on 14 September 2004 by the former Director-General of UNESCO. The certification of the inscription was commemorated in a ceremony at our Archives on 6 April 2005.
I am exceptionally proud that the Western Cape Archives and Records Service continues to make significant strides in its mandate as well as the aims of the TANAP and UNESCO. The dedicated staff work tirelessly to preserve and provide access to archival heritage and for this we thank you wholeheartedly. One of the preservation and access activities currently underway is the digitization of archival records and development of an Archives web portal which will provide digital access to the records.
Today we witness another honour bestowed to the WCARS, this time by the VOC Foundation. The award is to honour the Archive for fulfilling its role of preserving, conserving and providing access to VOC records. Please join me as I unveil the award.