W Cape launches National Archives Awareness Week

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cape Town - Western Cape MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, officially launched the National Archives Awareness Week at the Provincial Archives and Records Service in Cape Town, on Tuesday.

Flanked by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty and the Chief Director of National Archives and Libraries, Nomaza Dingayo, MEC Marais highlighted the importance of the Western Cape Archive and Record Services.

Delivering the keynote address, on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Makhotso Sotyu, Deputy Minister Surty said the archivist's role in society includes protecting the integrity of records as evidence.

“The concept of preserving history, collating full archives, making them as usable as possible so the public have access to them, I really feel that it allows the public an ability to engage with their own history,” Deputy Minister Surty said.

According to the Deputy Minister, archives are important because they provide evidence of activities and tell us more about individuals and institutions.

“They (archives) increase our sense of identity and understanding of cultures. They can even ensure justice,” he stressed.

He said the Annual National Archives Week 2017 coincides with the 20th anniversary of the signing into law of the Constitution

“Posterity will look at the archives to understand how we as the current generation advanced or derailed the project of enabling a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

“Through the archive, we as the current crop of leaders are able to avoid the pitfall of our forebears. We are a better people today because we have a clear picture through archival material of the past atrocities, triumphs and disasters,” he added.

Describing the Archives as the “nation's record keeper”, Deputy Minister Surty said the State Archive Service has its origins in the appointment of an Archives Commission of the Cape Colony in 1877, and after Union, in the appointment of a Chief Archivist for the Union of South Africa in 1919, and the promulgation of the first Archives Act in 1922.

“Today we have 9 provincial archives Services, with the National Archives as the 10th, providing guidance in terms of advice and archival standards, and thus making sure that we have a uniform system in South Africa as opposed to having 10 different ways of archiving in the country.”

MEC Marais in turn said Archive week is an open opportunity for every member of the public to explore the history of South Africa as well as to gain knowledge on researching their own family history.

Encouraging the public to trace their family roots, MEC Marais said it is fundamental that everyone knows where they come from.

The MEC said her department has made great strides in promoting understanding and social inclusion by going across the province to capture and document the personal oral histories of those who call the Western Cape home.

“Through this initiative together with the support from municipalities, we are filling the gaps of cultural history that was once not documented and lost as our elders passed on,” she said.

The Western Cape Government, in the current financial year, has allocated R35.3 million towards the maintenance of an archives and records management service.

The National Archive Awareness week will take place from 8 – 12 May 2017. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM