24 September 2010

Celebrating our heritage

Poster issued by the National Congress Cultural Day, SAHA Poster Collection, AL2446_0041Heritage Day is a time for South Africans to take stock of our shared memory, and the way in which we remember the past. Originally established through the Public Holidays Bill presented to the South African Parliament, the day was formerly celebrated as Shaka day in KwaZulu-Natal as a way of commemorating the legendary Zulu leader, Shaka. The construction of memory around the character of Shaka provides a good example of how the past is formed out of contemporary ideological outlooks. His legacy provides a basis for promoting a national identity that is united and proud. On this day, it is important to remember that heritage is not only about a memory of proud events in the past, but also provides a chance to take cognisance of the long-term impact of South Africa's murkier heritage.

SAHA and heritage

At the root of SAHA's mission is the goal of recapturing lost and neglected histories and to record aspects of South African history in the making. This informs our continued focus on documenting past struggles against apartheid, as well as ongoing struggles in the making of democracy. In a continued effort to provide secondary school educators with support and enrichment, SAHA held a pilot workshop on teaching heritage in the classroom at the Wits Education Campus in Parktown on 18 September 2010. Participants agreed that the workshop would benefit educators in imbuing the value of heritage to their learners.

Contact Michal Singer for more information regarding educator enrichment workshops.

SAHA and the Sunday Times Heritage Project

To mark its 100th year of publication in 2006, the Sunday Times embarked on a project to erect a trail of memorials across South Africa to commemorate some of the remarkable people and events that made history from 1906 - 2006. As part of this Sunday Times Heritage Project, an innovative online museum was created to showcase these memorials, bringing them together with a rich range of audio, video and archival resources from the last 100 years in South African history. The South African History Archive teamed up with the Sunday Times Heritage Project to identify and contribute archival materials, and to develop a collection of multimedia products, including Meeting history face-to-face, Between life and death: stories from John Vorster Square and Voices from our past, for distribution to educational and heritage organisations.

Visit the online museum dedicated to the Sunday Times Heritage Project.

Still image from Meeting history face-to-face depicting an artistic portrayal of 'Non-whites only' benches that were central to South Africa's heritage of racist, unjust separate amenities legislation, AL3282_c1.10.4Heritage and oral history

Oral history helps to identify, appreciate and respect different aspects of heritage. This includes the people, events and experiences that have shaped our personal lives, our communities and our national identity in different ways. Heritage is a "consciousness of the past that gives us individual and collective identity." Oral history thus makes it possible to focus on what the past means to us. For example, oral history has helped fill in the gaps of how struggles against apartheid unfolded, both in South Africa and abroad.

SAHA has designed an online resource for educators and learners on how to conduct oral history projects. The virtual exhibition is not only dedicated to young historians - it is inspired by their work. Our online resource provides a way for SAHA to engage closely with learners and educators through the provision of online material related to oral history. Our commitment to oral history education has already led to our involvement in a number of projects, including the 2007 SAHA/Sunday Times School Oral History Project, a ground breaking oral history and memorial building project with schools from all three towns in South Africa.

Visit SAHA's oral history virtual exhibition.

SAHA collections and heritage

AL3282 :: Sunday Times Heritage Project (STHP) Collection

The Sunday Times Heritage Project (STHP) collection includes a wide range of material collected toward the Sunday Times newspaper's Heritage Project. The STHP was completed in collaboration with the South African History Archives, and released during the newspaper's centenary celebrations. It set out to commemorate remarkable people and events selected from different arenas of South Africa's past. These subjects were memorialized in a series of public art pieces built nationwide. The project was extended and made accessible via a range media, such as radio, DVD, the web, as well as an oral history and heritage project for schools.

AL3285 :: Department of Education Nkosi Albert Luthuli Young Historians' Collection

This collection is a showcase of the work of South African history learners and educators who have participated in the competition between 2006 and 2009. The content of portfolios reflects an array of diverse, original and often challenging topics related to South Africa's past. Learners combine traditional methods of archival research with oral history interviews; their work demonstrates the potential of alternative history methods in representing the lives of ordinary South Africans previously ignored in the ‘official' narrative of South African history.