29 September 2011

Entering Tembisa: an oral and photographic exploration

The exhibition ‘Entering Tembisa: an oral and photographic exploration' was part of an oral history and archival collection project on Tembisa, conducted by the South African History Archive (SAHA) in 2010 and 2011. It brings together a diverse range of life stories of community members with rich historical images by Gille de Vlieg and artefacts from the archives to create an evocative telling of the previously neglected history in Tembisa.

The exhibition was well attended, and the discussion lively, as community members spoke of their experiences of life in Tembisa, from the origins of the township, and the history of migration to the area, to their experiences as student activists in the 1980s in Tembisa, famous fallen comrades from Tembisa, including Thami Mnyele and Andrew Maphetu, and the role of the church in the struggle.

The 'Entering Tembisa' exhibition was also used as the setting for an oral history competition between history learners from two Tembisa high schools, Tembisa High School and Ingqayizivele High School, on 29 September 2011. The learners presented oral research they had been conducting in ther communities in September, with the help of two community interns from SAHA. Topics included the formation of Tembisa, the school boycott of 1984, informal settlements in Tembisa, and the history of Tembisa High School.

Competition was fierce but in the end a team from Ingqayizivele, made up of learners Zenzi Mbele, Babzile Msusha, Koketso Mokgapa and Phapelo Ntsala, won the competition for their presentation on migration to Tembisa. Their school will be receiving an oral history kit from SAHA so the learners can continue to conduct this type of project within Tembisa.

Learn more about SAHA's Tembisa project

Learn more about Gille de Vlieg's photographic collection at SAHA



Early morning in Oakmoor, 1989 (image by gille de vlieg)