oa Historia - Uitdagings vir die Afrikaanse historikus (1,911)

Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



Challenges to the Afrikaans historian. The Afrikaans historian is faced with important challenges today. This is clear from the serious criticism of his historical writings, conduct and attitudes. Two of the most central points of criticism are his inability to acquaint himself sufficiently with the latest trends in international historiography, and his biased focus only on the white man's role in South African history. The Afrikaans historian is to a large extent still loyal to the Rankean tradition which dates back to the 19th century. As a result of this he places too much emphasis on mere political events. Important history-making processes, such as social and economic factors, do not receive sufficient attention. On the other hand, English speaking historians in South Africa have, because of their strong language, cultural and academic ties abroad, been more aware of new trends in their historical writings. During the last few years some Afrikaans historians have been reacting positively to this by having in-depth discussions about the situation. This does not mean that the Afrikaans historian has to follow slavishly everything coming from abroad, nor that he should, sacrifice the autonomous character of his discipline. However, dialogue and debate bring clarity and reassessment of aims and principles. Afrikaans historiography is also accused of bias in favour of the whites, and of not doing justice to the role of people of colour in South African history. The history of the whites can only be properly understood within the context of the history of all the peoples of South Africa. For this reason some Afrikaans historians have pleaded for a new approach, inter alia by writing general historical works of South Africa that will give a rightful place to both whites and non-whites. ""Integrated"" historical works have in any case become a reality. The Afrikaans historian has a choice. Either he plays no role or, with his insight and perspective, makes a positive contribution.

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