The department of education’s plan to make history compulsory for every learner throughout their schooling career is to be applauded. In a country that is still so unsettled by its myriad selves, still struggling to reconcile what must be mutually complementary pieces of its personality, that knowledge of self has to be rooted in what has gone before.
The recent brouhaha around the renaming of Cape Town International Airport is a case in point. Some fairly ignorant arguments have been offered in the public debate about the renaming. In support of a crass attempt at tribalism and at renaming the airport Krotoa, the Gatvol Capetonian Movement, saying they were descendants of the Khoi, took aim at Xhosa people, whom they claim to have preceded as inhabitants of the Cape.
A cursory look at history would have informed them that Xhosa people have as much claim to be descendants of Khoi people as any other so-called indigenous Capetonians, and would likely have remained there en masse save for discriminatory imperial and apartheid legislation.
If left to random forces, some with nefarious intentions, our history is likely to be corrupted, used to wage a war against us, the products of that history. And in that corruption we will again facilitate further theft of a large part of the self that belongs to each and every South African and African who lives in this country.