mirage

Contree: 1990 No 28

Boloka/Manakin Repository

Contree: 1990 No 28

 

Contents

No. 28, October 1990

Articles


Book reviews

Editorial

The task of the local historian

Local history usually focuses on a small demarcated area. This can easily give rise to the historian becoming so emotionally involved with a specific and interesting local incident or period of prosperity that he becomes totally immersed in it. However, true historical perspective, even in a local context, is only possible when the interaction between continuity and change - the building blocks of history writing - is established through thorough research and communicated to the reader in an intelligible manner. It can be argued that the promotion of a love and appreciation for the own environment is of primary concern for the local historian and that it therefore stands to reason that he will be selective with regard to the beauty of his cultural heritage and the highlights of its past. The historian, however, owes his reader more than this. Resulting from his research the historian has at his disposal the knowledge and insights needed by the local community as equipment to function in accordance with cultural values accepted within that community. Traditions valued in a particular group do not simply appear from nowhere but are rooted in its history.

  • Each community has therefore a specific collective identity that for historical reasons differs from those of other communities. This identity is important for it reinforces a community in a special way and complements the sense of self-esteem. Heightened cultural interaction, resulting from improved communication, poses the danger of eroding local and regional identities and creating the opportunity for them to be displaced by traditions which influence them from outside. Local history can serve to a large extent to maintain and fortify this identity.

  • Furthermore, it is crucial that not only the traditions and values inherent in a community are conveyed to the young people and newcomers, but also the historical context in which they originate.

  • Finally, it is important that a community understands itself and its institutions. In a rapidly changing world historical perspective is often lost, and with it an understanding of the significance of long-established institutions and traditions. Apart from the emotional dangers attached to it, there are also practical implications, inter alia with regard to meaningful local planning and development.

The local historian undoubtedly has a constructive obligation with respect to the past of his community - and its present and future.

A.G. Oberholster

Redaksioneel

Die taak van die plaaslike historikus

Plaaslike geskiedenis is in die reël op 'n klein en afgebakende onderwerp afgestem. Dit gee maklik daartoe aanleiding dat die geskiedskrywer so emosioneel by sy onderwerp betrokke raak dat hy in verwondering bly vassteek by 'n bepaalde interessante plaaslike insident of tydstip van hoogbloei. Ware historiese perspektief, ook in die kleiner kring, is egter eers moontlik wanneer die wisselwerking tussen kontinuïteit en verandering - die boustene van geskiedskrywing - deur deeglike navorsing vasgestel en op 'n begryplike wyse aan die leser oorgedra word. Daar kan geredeneer word dat dit vir die plaaslike historikus in die eerste plek daarom gaan om liefde en waardering vir die eie omgewing te bevorder en dat dit gevolglik sin maak om selektief ten opsigte van die skoonheid van die kulturele erfenis en die trotse hoogtepunte in die verlede te wees. Die geskiedskrywer is egter meer as dit aan sy leser verskuldig. Op grond van sy navorsing beskik die geskiedskrywer oor kennis en insigte waaraan die plaaslike publiek 'n behoefte het omdat dit hulle toerus om kultuurgetrou in hulle eie omgewing te funksioneer. Die waardes wat in 'n bepaalde gemeenskap geld, is nie uit die lug gegryp nie maar is gewortel in sy geskiedenis.

  • Elke gemeenskap het daarom 'n bepaalde kollektiewe identiteit wat om geskiedkundige redes anders is as die van ander gemeenskappe. Hierdie identiteit is vir 'n gemeenskap belangrik omdat dit hom op 'n besondere manier ondersteun en die gevoel van eie waarde versterk. As gevolg van verbeterde kommunikasie wat kulturele interaksie verhoog, loop plaaslike en streekidentiteit gevaar om verdring te word deur tradisies wat van buite daarop inspeel en dit verweer. Plaaslike geskiedenis kan grootliks bydra om die identiteit in stand te hou en te versterk.

  • Dit is voorts belangrik dat nie net die tradisies en waardes wat eie aan 'n gemeenskap is nie, maar ook die historiese konteks waarin dit beslag gekry het, aan die jeug en nuwelinge oorgedra word.

  • Dit is ten slotte belangrik dat 'n gemeenskap homself en sy instellings verstaan. In 'n snel veranderende wêreld gaan historiese perspektief dikwels verlore, en daarmee saam begrip vir die belangrikheid van gevestigde instellings en gebtuike. Afgesien van die emosionele gevare daaraan verbonde het dit ook praktiese implikasies, onder meer ten opsigte van sinvolle plaaslike beplanning en onrwikkeling.

Die plaaslike historikus het ongetwyfeld 'n konstruktiewe verpligting ten opsigte van sy gemeenskap se verlede - en hede en toekoms.

A.G. Oberholster

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