2017 NKOSI ALBERT LUTHULI YOUNG HISTORIANS’ AWARD

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) celebrates History with an Oral History competition held on Saturday 19 August at Old Mutual in Pinelands.

The following eight competitors were chosen to represent the Western Cape at the national competition in Pretoria from 29 September - 2 October 2017:

Dyaan Edries (Vista Nova High School), Anoxolo Konkwana (Groenberg High School), Aidan Julius (Fairmont High School), Elthenrich Swartz (Diazville High School), Jemima Jaars (Steynville High School), Ilyaas Bassardien (Vista Nova High School), Maurice Rix (Zeekoeivlei High School) and Kimola Everts (Soneike High School). All the schools in the Western Cape were encouraged to participate in the competition which is open to Grades 8-11 Social Sciences/History learners. 

From left: Dr Peter Beets, Deputy Director General: Curriculum and Assessment Management,Dyaan Edries (Vista Nova High School), Anoxolo Konkwana (Groenberg High School), Aidan Julius (Fairmont High School), Elthenrich Swartz (Diazville High School), Jemima Jaars (Steynville High School), Ilyaas Bassardien (Vista Nova High School), Maurice Rix (Zeekoeivlei High School) and Kimola Everts (Soneike High School).

The competition is an initiative of the national Department of Education’s contribution to the strengthening of History as a subject of choice in schools and is named after the first Nobel Peace laureate South of Sahara, Nkosi Albert John Luthuli, who apart from his fight for total emancipation of the oppressed, was also an educationist of note, having taken up his first teaching assignment at Adams College, where he completed his Higher Teachers’ Training Course.

Ms Karen Dudley, Director GET Curriculum with Ilyaas Bassardien (Vista Nova High School), Dennis Cloete, Subject Advisor Metropole Central Eduaction District, Ms Pertunia Mutheiwana (teacher that will represent the WCED at the national competition) and Dyaan Edries (Vista Nova High School).

We were honoured to have as our adjudicators Dr Wayne Alexander (Director: Education Programmes, Iziko Museums), Ms Nuraan Allie (Oral Historian at UCT) and Ms Emma Proctor (Oral Historian at UCT). There were musical preludes, interludes and a rendition performed by the Beau Soleil String Quatret and the Lambrechts Music Centre (David Cyster and Keon Muller).

Learners were asked, as part of their oral history project to select one of the topics below and to gather stories from ordinary people on their local contribution to the liberation struggle. Teachers are an important roleplayer in this competition as they guide the learners through the formal research process. In the teacher section of the competition, Ms Pertunia Mutheiwana from Vista Nova High School presented how she introduced the process of oral history to the learners.

The topics that learners had to choose from included:

  • Oliver Thambo was a true servant of the people and was committed in ensuring that South Africa would become a nation that is non-racial, united, non-sexist and prosperous. Learners were expected to interview a former activist and highlight their observations on whether the efforts of the activist (s) has had an impact in the community they live in.
  • On the 23rd of March 1987, Johannesburg railway workers downed tools in support of a colleague that was retrenched. The South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union (SARHWU) embarked on a strike joined by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), OK Bazaars, postal workers and auto-workers. Learners are expected to interview former workers who participated in the 1987 South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union (SARHWU) strike and find out from them how the strike impacted working conditions in South Africa then and now.
  • Chief Albert Luthuli once said: “We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together and where there shall be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity”. As South Africa celebrates 50 years of the passing of Chief Albert Luthuli, South Africans are called to emulate the spirit of Chief Albert Luthuli of rising and standing in unity against the dangers of racism and divisions. Learners were expected to interview an individual in their community who was a local hero or heroine during the apartheid era and find out from them how the ideals of Chief Albert Luthuli impacted their lives and that of all South Africans.
  • Freedom, democracy and history of my school: how my school experienced apartheid and the changes since the advent of democracy in 1994. The learner was expected to interview members of the community who were part of the school during the apartheid era.
  • The Black Consciousness movement in South Africa is synonymous with its fighter, Steve Bantu Biko, who still remains to be an icon of the struggle against apartheid. Steve Biko instilled courage, particularly amongst the youth, to fight an unjust system under the banner “Black Consciousness”. 

Learners must interview and write the life story of a leader who was part of the Black Consciousness Movement in the 1970’s.

Ms Pertunia Mutheiwana will represent the WCED at the national Young Historians’ competition in Pretoria.

Through the competition the learners and teachers are accessing the memory of ordinary citizens. History is not only about our heroes, but also about everyday people in our communities. Their names may not appear in the history books, but they have made an immense contribution to get us where we are today