Judging South Africa’s past: The sense of shame experienced by first-year History students of the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus
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Shame as a self-conscious emotion is an important contributing factor controlling and motivating people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour in socially appropriate ways, especially during interactions with one another. Shame in its own capacity causes discomfort when the behaviour of individuals and/or the group violates personal or social standards. The article aims to determine what the perceptions are of undergraduate students registered for first-year History at the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus who took History as a school subject up to Grade 12; what enhances a sense of shame in them as South African citizens when judging the country’s past. The article contextualises the concept of shame; explains the methodology and approach that was used; and highlights the perceptions of these students and the issues that enhance a sense of shame in them as students studying at the capital of the Free State when judging the country’s past. In the process, the article assesses what is the level of the student’s historical consciousness, background, insight and in-depth knowledge of South Africa’s past, so as to be able to make a judgment on what they are ashamed of in past events in the country and the reasons why.