29 February 2012

African Oral Narratives – Forgotten Voices in the Present: alternative, post-1994 oral histories from SA communities

Comprising interviews from SAHA collection Forgotten Voices in the Present collection (AL3280), this is the second collection of oral and life histories from SAHA to be launched as part of Michigan State University's African Oral Narrative project. Military Intelligence in Apartheid-era South Africa, based on the De Wet Potgieter collection (AL3283) was launched early last year.

The Forgotten Voices collection of 55 interviews with residents in three poor communities - Maandagshoek, Rammolutsi, and Sebokeng - in South Africa was conducted by Dr Dale McKinley and Ahmed Veriava in 2007 and 2008 on behalf of SAHA. This research project was an attempt to contribute to an ‘alternative history of the South African transition' by capturing ‘histories from below' of the South African transition in an attempt to provide a meaningful cross-section of rural, urban and peri-urban realities in South Africa's post-1994 political, social and economic history, as lived and experienced by the oppressed and the marginalized majority.

Emerging from these interviews are key issues such as the escalation of unemployment and poverty largely due to the privatization of industry and job shedding in the farming sector, health concerns and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the communities, reliance on social grants and small-scale farming, concerns around quality of education, and the provision of housing and failures in service delivery by the government.

A DVD, titled A Dream Deferred, was produced as part of this project in 2008. Still images of many of the interviewees were captured from the DVD for inclusion in the AON project.

AON is a free, open access digital library and a collaborative effort at the Michigan State University (MSU) between MATRIX, the Department of History, and the African Studies Centre and its partners: Ababa University, the University of Ghana, University of Malawi, SAHA, the United Nations, Indiana University, and Oakland University.

Visit the African Oral Narratives website.