Athlone icon celebrated

2015-09-29 06:00
Elizabeth van der Heyden, a friend of the late apartheid activist Dulcie September, talks to provincial minister Anroux Marais about a travelling exhibition on September’s life.

Elizabeth van der Heyden, a friend of the late apartheid activist Dulcie September, talks to provincial minister Anroux Marais about a travelling exhibition on September’s life.

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Athlone native and political icon of the struggle Dulcie September was once again honoured as the provincial department of cultural affairs and sport launched its oral history framework document, as well as a travelling exhibition named in September’s honour.

The ceremony at the Western Cape archive and records management service in the city centre on Wednesday last week was hosted by provincial minister Anroux Marais.

According to the department, the framework document offers guidelines for the process of collecting oral history and ensuring that data collection is done ethically in order for the information to be used.

The travelling exhibition also uses information that was gathered through the process of interviews to tell September’s story.

Some of her friends and family members who helped the museum service through interviews were present at the launch.

“History cannot give us a programme for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future,” said Marais in her address, making a direct reference to Robert Penn Warren’s iconic statement about the importance of history.

“Our history need not be lost as older generations pass on. We have a duty to keep our histories alive in our communities and within government so that future generations can celebrate our heritage.”

Marais honoured September by unveiling the travelling exhibition, intended to improve social inclusion.

“She is someone that others can identify with, coming from humble beginnings herself. This is an exhibition of archival material and it inspires ordinary people to understand the enduring value of their own documents, maps and pictures. We gain insight into September’s life through her family’s personal archive, some police records, records from Dulcie’s Paris office and newspaper clippings. These are memories and they tell a story. We are thankful to September’s family and friends who were very generous with their time and their records.”

It is hoped that visitors to the exhibition will see the value in their own personal archives and will be inspired to donate them to the provincial archives.

The gathering of oral history is a process in which information is gathered by interviewing a person about his or her memories and recording these for use by future generations.

“With the official theme of Heritage Day, ‘our living heritage’, I am proud to announce that the department has developed an oral history framework to redress the challenges faced with recording oral history,” said Marais.

The framework includes:

. providing minimum standards and guidelines for staff who are gathering oral history and its processes;

. clarifying roles that various departments play in oral history processes;

. establishing a framework that regulates legalities that are associated with oral history recording; and

. establishing a provincial database of oral histories to be housed in the Western Cape archives and records service.

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