Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

PRESERVING SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNITY ARCHIVES IN A CONTEXT OF UBUNTU

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2021), 56, (1), 37–52.

Abstract

South Africa is rich in archival collections that contribute significantly to nation building and to sociocultural cohesion in the post-apartheid era. The archives bring the past to life and reveal threads of continuity in the historical development of communities. The present paper discusses personal and independent community archives in localities in Limpopo Province. The study considers villages in their entirety as living, evolving entities. From that perspective it looks at the prospects of personal and independent community archives which are in the custody of, respectively, private individuals and social groups striving sustainably to preserve archival material of interest to broader communities while simultaneously advancing the ubuntu principle (a person is a person through other persons). By conducting unstructured interviews with inhabitants involved in the creation of archives, and by applying the ubuntu principle as a theory that provides insight, it has become clear that personal and independent community archives function as tools that preserve communal memory for the interest of present communities and future generations. The study looks at personal and independent community archives in different localities and identifies ways to better manage such archives for the benefit of the community at large. In Limpopo Province archives of various types have not been meaningfully integrated into mainstream community archives. This has resulted in a gap separating individuals building personal archives from social groups that generate their own repositories. This separation hinders the profitable exchange of informative materials within communities. During interviews, community members have recommended practical steps to improve the preservation of their community archives and promote the ubuntu principle.

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Author details

Motsamayi, Mathodi Freddie