Mak (from Makhado) describes a task in which he is required to seek out the records held by the Department of Justice in order to settle a rather messy family dispute.
Graham Dominy’s blog examines the state of the archives system in South Africa in terms of its constitutional, legal and administrative mandates. This post is s based on a seminar presented at the Public Affairs Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in May 2013.
Laura Phillips visits the archives of the former Lebowa and concludes that the disorder she finds there is the product of a very particular set of historical and administrative circumstances.
In this post, first published on the South African Civil Society Information Service website, Frank Meintjies notes that many of the deep-seated social and developmental problesm facing South Africa today link back to the transition processes of the 1990s - including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) - and concludes that, for significant numbers of marginalised South Africans, discussion of a better future begins with the historical view – and with robust discussion of the transition process itself.
Harriet Deacon comments on the excitement and silences of #AskACurator day on 18 September 2013.
Harriet Deacon looks at the advantages of and barriers to promoting wider digital access to heritage collections.
Chris Saunders reports on the conference which took place at Rhodes University, Grahamstown in July 2013
In this post, originally published on Custom Contested Mbongiseni Buthelezi reflects on how history and its making influences contemporary laws and debates about custom. He notes that legal arguments about chieftainship, customary rights and entitlements often make reference to the past and asks:, What is the place of historical research in litigation?’ How do we construct an accurate view of customary practices as they have evolved over time in order to make arguments about customary law? And where might we find the evidence to help us construct such a view?
This evocative post by Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya’s reminds us of the power of the archive and the opportunities that digitisation offers to make fragments of the past broadly accessible in the present.
Frances Eberhard considers the battle over the VhaVhenda kingship and concludes that contestation of prevailing interpretations of traditional leadership impact seriously upon the realisation of constitutionally protected rights.
Liam Keene writes about the thokoza sangomas and the way in which they embody history and reconcile historical conflict through spirit possession and by training as a sangoma.
Grant McNulty reflects on the tensions that exist between the modes of governance that exist in the present in KwaZulu Natal. On the one hand, there is a new modern democracy, which is based on records and emphasises citizens with individual rights and responsibilities, and on the other, chiefly governance based on the traditional and customary, maintained through memory and orality, which conceives of people as chiefly subjects.
Grant McNulty notes that traditional leaders are increasingly subject to bureaucratic procedures, administration and a powerful demand for accountability through the documentary record. He argues that, in KwaZulu-Natal, where the institution of traditional leadership is deeply entrenched, the realm of custom and tradition now intersects in more direct ways with the bureaucracy and records of the state than it did during the colonial and apartheid periods, exerting a much greater call on the amakhosi to participate in the world of records and record-making.
A review by Chris Saunders.
Carolien Greyling considers the the benefit of digitizating archives, especially for making material more easily accessible, but wonders if the cost of this will, in fact, keep these resources out-of reach.