mirage

Contree: 1988 No 23

Boloka/Manakin Repository

Contree: 1988 No 23

 

Contents

No. 23, March 1988

Articles


Book reviews

Editorial

Dynamics in community life - a historical perspective

Various socio-economic factors usually play a vital role in the origin and survival of a local or regional community. Some of the most important of these are related to the occupation and ownership of land, as well as the way in which man utilizes natural resources or adapts himself to existing and changing situations. Climate and topography generally influence the pattern of settlement, while land ownership, the economic potential and viability of a specific area sometimes hold the key to progress or lead to stagnation and decline.

It is important for the regional historian to analyse such forces in a community, while at the same time taking cognisance of the actions or reactions of individuals, groups and the authorities, since these can either stimulate or inhibit growth. In this issue there are examples of the individual's position regarding ownership of land and his attempts to improve his standard of living through own initiative. Attention is for instance paid to measures introduced by the government to encourage private enterprise at the saltpan of Soutpansberg in the far Nonhern Transvaal. Another contribution describes the institution of private landownership at Bethelsdorp, a mission station in the Eastern Cape. In both instances it is significant that the government in its policy and actions did not always consider the ambitions and interests of individuals, thus causing incongruities and frustration.

The importance of environmental factors in the establishment of Durban and East London is illustrated in two other articles. The part played by pioneers and government officials in the foundation of these seaport settlements is also described. In the case of East London the author describes how political decisions have prevented it from making the same progress as other seaports. On the other hand, the article on Durban portrays the modest beginnings of this modern and dynamic city and argues that its date of inception in fact was 1824 and not 1835, as is generally accepted.

It would be naive to regard the past as a static collection of facts, for as a British historian rightly observed, history rarely stays still for very long. In dealing with the history of a town or region, the historian should therefore aim at pointing out changes in space and time. Apart from the 'conspicuous' history and the dramatic changes in community life, the more 'submerged' or subjacent events, and the almost 'silent' facts should also be revealed. The true objective of the local and regional historian is to reconstruct an integral image of the past. By publishing research with such a scope, Contree attempts to contribute to depicting history as the "sum total of human social development over time".

Redaksioneel

Historiese perspektief op dinamiek in die gemeenskap

In die ontstaan en voortbestaan van 'n plaaslike of streekgemeenskap is 'n verskeidenheid sosiaal-ekonomiese faktore dikwels deurslaggewend van aard. Van die belangrikste hiervan hou verband met grondbesetting en grondbesit, asook die wyse waarop die mens natuurlike hulpbronne benut of hom by heersende en veranderende omstandighede aanpas. Terwyl vestigingspatrone meestal deur klimaat en topografie beïnvloed word, is sowel eienaarskap van grond as die ekonomiese potensiaal en lewensvatbaarheid van 'n bepaalde gebied soms die sleutel tot vooruitgang of 'n oorsaak vir stagnasie en verval.

Vir die streekhistorikus is dit belangrik om sodanige kragte in 'n gemeenskap te ontleed en terselfdertyd rekening te hou met die optrede of reaksie van individue, groepe en die owerheid omdat dit ontwikkeling kan bevorder of inhibeer. Voorbeelde van die individu se posisie ten opsigte van eiendomsreg en pogings om deur eie inisiatief sy lewenspeil te verbeter, word in hierdie uitgawe behandel. Aandag word byvoorbeeld gegee aan owerheidsmaatreëls om private ondernemerskap by die Soutpansbergse soutpan in die vette Noord-Transvaal aan te moedig. In 'n ander bydrae word die instelling van private grondbesit op die Oos-Kaapse sendingstasie Bethelsdorp beskryf. Opmerklik in albei gevalle is dat die owerheid in sy beleid en optrede nie altyd begrip getoon het vir individue se wense en belange nie, iets wat tot ongerymdhede of frustrasie gelei het.

Artikels oor Durban en Oos-Londen beklemtoon weer die belangrikheid van omgewingsfaktore in die totstandkoming van die twee kusstede. Die rol van pioniers en regeringsamptenare in die ontstaan van hierdie nedersettings word ook toegelig. In die geval van Oos-Londen word onder meer beskryf hoe politieke besluite verhinder het dat die hawe dieselfde vooruitgang as ander kushawens maak. Die bydrae oor Durban daarenteen skets die beskeie begin van hierdie moderne, dinamiese hawestad en toon aan dat sy stigtingsdatum in werklikheid 1824 was en nie 1835 soos oor die algemeen aanvaar word nie.

Dit sou naïef wees om die verlede te sien as 'n statiese versameling feite, want in die woorde van 'n Britse historikus staan geskiedenis nooit lank stil nie. Verandering in ruimte en tyd behoort dus die ideaal te wees in die bestudering van 'n dorp- of streekgeskiedenis. Afgesien van die 'opsigtelike' geskiedenis en dramatiese veranderinge in 'n.gemeenskap moet die meer 'verskuilde', onderliggende gebeure en die feitlik 'stilswyende' feite ook aan die lig kom. Want die plaaslike en streekhistoriese studie beoog juis om 'n integrate verlede beeld te herskep. Deur die publikasie van navorsing met so 'n strekking wil Contree bydra om.geskiedenis uit te beeld as die "sum total of human social development over time".

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