"The oral testimonies of the indigenous people, men and women, community leaders and ordinary people, who give a face to this country, need to be recorded if an all-inclusive history of South Africa is ever to be written"  
National Archives and Record Service of South Africa (NARS)

Orality is a significant aspect of the culture of the majority of South African people. It is a vital means to address imbalances and omissions that were created in the colonial and apartheid era, by bringing into the archives the stories and narratives that reflect the experiences and memory of all South Africans.

In 1999 Cabinet mandated the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) to conceptualise a National Oral History Programme (NOHP) for South Africa.  Dr. Ben Ngubane appointed a panel of experts to commence the process and come up with recommendations to the department.

The DACST thereafter spearheaded a National Oral History Programme to document the nation’s neglected experiences and memory.  A training pilot project entitled “the 1956 Anti-Pass March to the Union Buildings by women of South Africa” was successfully launched in 2000.  A comprehensive plan/report for the Oral History programme was drafted in September 2001 by the panel of experts.

Section 3 of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act no 43 of 1996 as amended states that the NARS will collect, preserve and promote public and non-public records with historical value for the use by government and the public.

The National Archives and Records Services of South Africa (NARS) was given the task of collecting and preserving oral history collections.  A database for all collections held by different institutions involved in oral history was developed.  The database reflects the different project/recordings done by other heritage institutions in the country with the aim of promoting their collections.

NARS and DAC have assisted a number of institutions with training and funds to collect oral testimonies.  NARS will assist with training, inclusion of collections in the database and preserving all funded and non-funded oral history projects.  The National Film Video and Sound Archives (NFVSA) has storage and preservation facilities, which are suitable for oral collections that are in different audio-visual formats.  Institutions are encouraged to deposit their collections with the National Film Video and Sound Archives, a component of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa.


Any queries please contact:

The National Archives
Private Bag x236

Tel: 012 323 5300
Fax: 012 323 5287
Website: national.archive.gov.za


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