Recording the anti-apartheid struggle
in South Africa
This Oral History Project (OHP) was carried out by the Alan Paton
Centre (APC) from 1995 - 1998. The aims of the OHP were to build up the
resources for a people's history of the region, a history which had
been largely neglected and unrecorded; to record the struggle
experiences of older activists as a matter of urgency; to create
archival material for academic research; and to encourage more community
involvement with and use of the APC and its resources.
A life history approach was taken, which allowed particular
attention to be paid to the circumstances surrounding specific events,
such as marches, boycotts, bannings, harassment and arrests.
Interviewees, of which there have been 145, include Archie Gumede,
Archbishop Denis Hurley, Harry Gwala, Peter Brown, Else Schreiner, Rev.
Timothy Smith, Peter Kirchoff, Monika Wittenberg and A.S. Chetty.
Several broad subject areas or themes recur in the interviews. These
are violence in the KZN Midlands during the 1980s, the role of the Trade
Unions, the effects of the SARMCOL strike in the late 1980s, the Black
Sash, the role of women and the history of protest in Pietermaritzburg
and KZN. Some of the interviews are with activists outside of KZN.
Most interviews were conducted in English, and those which were
conducted in Zulu have been translated or summarised in English. Most
interviews had been transcribed by the end of 2002. Researchers may
access the tapes and transcripts of the majority of the interviews at
the APC. Photocopies may be made of many of the transcriptions, but the
tapes may not be copied.
The Sinomlando Project was initially known as the
Oral History Project of the School of Theology, University of Natal. It
was started in 1994 as a way of developing a new vision for the history
of Christianity in South Africa. Traditionally, church history had
been written from a white, missionary perspective, relying on written
sources. The Sinomlando Project tries to recover the silenced
minorities of Christian communities who suffered under apartheid, and
attempts to raise their stories to the status of historical sources.
Since 1994 all students of the History of Christianity in the School
of Theology have been involved in oral history research projects, as
part of their curriculum. The tapes and transcripts are housed at the
APC, where they can be accessed by researchers, depending on the access
conditions for each interview.
Some of the topics which have been studied are:
1994 The making of the indigenous clergy
Religion by day and religion by night
1996 The churches'
response to the Group Areas Act
1997 Dialogue and reconciliation
1998 Church and finance
Sexuality, marriage and the family
2000 Death and bereavement
Disease and healing
2002 Gender and marriage
2003 War and peace
Since 2000, the Sinomlando Project has been running the Memory Box
Project. The aim of this project is to help children who have lost
their parents and relatives due to HIV/AIDS. This is becoming more and
more frequent, and children are losing their family identity. The
memory facilitators attempt to capture the memory of the family by
assembling "memory boxes", which contain photographs, significant
objects and stories based on interviews with family members and