Archival Activism Report Launched

24 Dec 2018 - 14:15
Caption: A Ground of Struggle report. Photo credit: Jo-Anne Duggan


The Archival Platform's report, A Ground of Struggle: Four decades of Archival Activism in South Africa was launched on 4 October 2018 at a dialogue convened by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. This event marked the 20th anniversary of the submission of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report to President Nelson Mandela and, concurrently, the launch of the Archival Platform's Report and The Presidential Years, an online archival resource. 

The dialogue, Reckoning with Reconciliation, focused broadly on the following critical questions: what does the work of the TRC signify today; why did its recommendations find such little purchase; what happened to Madiba's reconciliation project; and, is it too late to revisit the recommendations? The conversation was led by a panel comprising Dr Chandré Gould (author, researcher and former TRC investigator), Dr Noel Solani (historian and senior manager at Ditsong Museums of South Africa), Imtiaz Cajee (activist, public servant and member of the Timol family) and Sylvia Graham (former student leader during the #FeesMustFall and #AfrikaansMustFall campaigns).  

The discussion was followed by a keynote address by Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Acting Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute, and an APC Associate Researcher. Buthelezi emphasized the significance of archives as a starting point for critical conversations about the past and its effect on the present and the future and raised some difficult questions about the imperative to reckon with oppressive pasts. What to do with the more recent past of state capture and other forms of betrayal? How do we begin to prioritise the reckonings which need to be undertaken?

It was a thought-provoking evening, the interactions between the panelists were intense, passionate and profound and the discussions carried on over drinks and snacks long after the formalities were concluded.

Jo-Anne Duggan
December 2018