House of memory for the forgotten narratives of Thaba Nchu: voicing & tracing different narratives through the exploration of place
The Department of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the National Museum of Bloemfontein’s anthropology sector requires a house of memory committed to the resurgence of Thaba ‘Nchu that will store and exhibit collected oral history from the 49 villages around Thaba ‘Nchu. The memory house will protect and conserve historical documents gathered by the community (currently stored in the traditional council building) and give members of the public access to these documents through exhibitions and audio visual material. Ultimately, the House of Memory will serve as a mechanism that brings together traces of different narratives of those who live or have lived in Thaba ‘Nchu. The museum will also be the first to commemorate the Barolong tribe, specifically the Barolong boo-Seleka. In addition, the project requires offices with recording facilities, research space and space to store the recordings of the forgotten stories of ordinary people including their experiences of how Apartheid or colonialism affected them, which will either be exhibited in the museum or stored digitally in the archive. Presently, the voice of Thaba ‘Nchu has been forgotten as a result of the effects of colonialism and the apartheid regime which led to the forceful removal of people from a place they called home into a space with which they could not identify. The search for a forgotten identity by the younger generation has fueled the search for the history of Thaba ‘Nchu, i.e.- who settled there, what the prominent cultures were, how the people lived, and the voice of Thaba ‘Nchu that provides those who live in the settlement with an identity. In order for the place to be re-remembered, a relationship between the demands of modern life in Thaba ‘Nchu and its diverse past may be established, to revive that which has died, to become an all-inclusive environment where (in terms of Norberg-Schulz, 1985) public, collective and private dwelling can take place. The House of memory will remember Thaba ‘Nchu by means of analysis of its social rituals, and existing architectural spaces,- and their tectonics, and re-interpreting them into inclusive spaces that are relevant to the present place, and which may aid in restoring its voice. In this regard, the proposed project will attempt to bring about a sense of permanence to a region in which everything appears to be transitory and fragile, and offer the community of Thaba ‘Nchu much-needed social and educational resources pertaining to its history, as well as provide a space for anthropologists in which to gain knowledge with regard to the people living in the place.