28 September 2012

'Entering Tembisa: an oral and photographic exploration of the community'

Heritage Month celebrations - SAHA and the City of Ekurhuleni launched an exhibition and report, Entering Tembisa, which provides a fascinating narrative on the neglected history of Tembisa.

To celebrate Heritage Month 2012, the City of Ekurhuleni and the South African History Archive (SAHA) are gearing up for the launch of a report and virtual exhibition ‘Entering Tembisa' based on an oral and document history collection project conducted by SAHA in 2010 and 2011. The launch took place on 28 September 2012.

AL3288_d1.5.8_View of Tembisa today

This project unearthed a diverse range of fascinating life stories narrated by community members who painted an evocative image of this East Rand township. These stories also provide a comprehensive insight dating back from when the township was founded to the present day.

Using images of the township in the 1980s taken by Gille de Vlieg, activist and Afrapix photographer, as a departure point, 27 interviews were conducted and transcribed, numerous scans of artefacts gathered in the course of this project, and a small exhibition and oral history competition with two high schools in Tembisa was hosted by Tembisa West Library to mark Heritage Day 2011. This report and the accompanying virtual exhibition draw on these interviews, archival research and photographs to tell a fascinating history of Tembisa.

Tembisa had its fair share of political turmoil, particularly during the early 1990s when violence erupted in the lead up to the first democratic elections in 1994, yet, not much has been documented about it. This is what necessitated the project, which is in line with SAHA's commitment to recapture lost and neglected histories as well as to document past and contemporary struggles for justice in South Africa. 

Archival images and other materials used for the exhibition and report are from the following SAHA collections:

AL3274 The Gille de Vlieg Collection
AL3288 'Voices from Below': An Oral and Photographic Community History of Tembisa Project" Collection