Thursday, November 27, 2008

Document your history

In a previous post I talked about how history is being lost. In South Africa, this is particularly true.
It is said that one of the spoils of war is the victor gets to rewrite history and that certainly is the case in this country.
There are many examples where our current government has removed statues and icons dating from a previous era and the history text books are all being rewritten but I came across an example in my own little town.
A few years ago I was commissioned to write a book detailing the history of this town and, in doing so, I took photographs at the local war-memorial park.
Recently I revisited the park and was horrified to see the that plaques containing the names of boys killed in South Africa’s border war have all been removed. The wall stands empty, those soldiers’ existence expunged.
No matter what anyone’s particular beliefs or political leanings may be, history and it’s symbols should be left intact.
If we adjust or modify the past to suit ourselves there can never be truth.
But the fact is, like it or not, it is going to happen. Today’s government will massage history and perceptions to suit itself and the government that follows will set about wiping out what this government has done.
In the end, it is going to be up to ordinary citizens to document -- and the best way is by taking photographs -- the life and times in which we now live. Get out there and photograph those monuments, statues, paintings and buildings -- the things that are important to you -- because, if history continues to repeat itself, in all likelihood, the things you record today will soon no longer exist.

1 comment:

OrelleJ said...

Great point! As we see the WWII veterans disappear, we are seeing their stories and their history disappear too. Many young people don't know very much about the Holocaust!

History tells our story and when our history is lost then any opportunity to learn from the past is lost too.