From 1798 to 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte campaigned in the Ottoman territories of Egypt and Syria, proclaimed to defend French trade interests and establish scientific enterprise in the region, but instead intended to dominate the East Mediterranean and threaten the British hold on India.
A typical interview set-up: Khotso Pudumo interviewing an elderly Batho resident. (Photo source: National Museum)
After the necessary preparations have been made, the work of an oral historian typically begins with the scheduling of an interview with an interviewee. On the day of the interview, the interviewer or oral historian is transported back in time by listening to the stories told by the interviewee.
One of the joys of working as an oral historian at the National Museum is the opportunity to interview people about Mangaung’s past. Most of the people who are interviewed for the museum’s oral history projects are elderly people who possess a wealth of information on local history. One of the people I have interviewed for the Museum’s Batho Project is Rev. Shadrack Papane. Until his retirement Rev. Papane was the full-time pastor of Emmanuel Anglican Church in Rocklands, Mangaung, for many years. Rev. Papane was born in 1933 during the time of the Great Depression.
The history of South Africa’s liberation struggle is an important aspect of the country’s heritage landscape. On a local level liberation heritage gains even more importance when one meets face-to-face with the surviving veterans and stalwarts of the liberation struggle of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and listens to their stories. In order to preserve a key part of Mangaung’s liberation heritage, the National Museum launched the Batho Liberation Heritage Project a few years ago.
Are you interested in researching your family’s history? You might need to interview elderly family members such as your grandparents and great-grandparents about their lives. Would you like to write the history of your town or community? You will have to interview some of the elderly residents to obtain the information that is still lacking.