A Comparison Study of Oral History Programs at National Archives of Botswana and Zimbabwe: Postmodernism Approach to Oral History

A Comparison Study of Oral History Programs at National Archives of Botswana and Zimbabwe: Postmodernism Approach to Oral History

Sindiso Bhebhe, Tshepho Mosweu
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5840-8.ch009
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The influence of the postmodernist school of thought has touched archival science. This chapter looks into how one of the notions of postmodernism in archival science which advocates for the challenging of the dominant narrative discourse by equally including into the archives the voices of the minority, the marginalized, the ordinary, and the underrepresented people is faring both at National Archives of Zimbabwe and Botswana National Archives and Records Service.
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Botswana, which was known as the British protectorate of Bechuanaland during the colonial era gained independence in 1966 and according to the 2016 population census has a population of around 2 million. Though Batibo & Smieja (2000) posits that it is difficult to determine the exact number of minority languages spoken in Botswana as a result of language clusters, the number of languages spoken in the country is estimated to be at least 25 whereby Setswana is the most dominant language in the country, spoken by at least 80% of a population. Setswana has been declared by the government as the national language while English is the official language in the country.

Minority rights group international [MRGI] (2015) has outlined that:

Botswana is home to eight Tswana tribes and around 37 non-Tswana tribes. Since independence in 1966, the government of Botswana has sought to emphasise the homogeneity of Botswana and pursued what it calls a policy of racial neutrality, downplaying the importance of ethnicity as reflected, for example, in the fact that information on ethnicity is not collected in the national census.

MRGI (2015) further quotes a High Court judgement which highlights the cultural genocide of these minority groups mainly but not limited to the blatant denial of having their own traditional chiefs:

A 2001 decision of the High Court of Botswana recognised that certain provisions of the Constitution were discriminatory towards non-Tswana tribes, as was legislation which only recognised the chiefs and the tribal lands of the eight Tswana tribes. Nevertheless, despite amendments to the Constitution and the adoption of legislation which allows in theory for the recognition of any tribal group and its chief, the Constitutional provisions remain discriminatory on the basis of tribe and no non-Tswana tribe or its chief has to date been officially recognised.

Unfortunately, such racial neutrality, viewed by successive governments as a necessary means to ensuring Botswana’s peaceful development, has not been rooted in fundamental principles of non-discrimination and equality. Instead it has largely favoured the status quo that existed prior to independence and, as such, continued the dominance of the eight Tswana tribes.

It is therefore one of the objectives of this paper to scrutinise whether this perceived discrimination of minority groups [whose languages are not even recognised as official languages like Setswana] in Botswana can also be seen in the preservation of their cultural heritage at the National Archives in Botswana.

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