Stories to help diversity in communities

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas, Professor Denis Goldberg and Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC, Anroux Marais.

The healing power of our stories, is what lies at the heart of an oral history programme, which has now been launched in Hout Bay.

Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC, Anroux Marais, officially rolled out the provincial government’s Oral History Initiative at the Hangberg civic centre on Wednesday March 1.

The project preserves the unique stories of Western Cape communities. Residents can share their stories at local participating libraries.

At the launch, Hangberg residents and some sports legends shared their stories. Lawyer and activist Professor Denis Goldberg also reflected on his own personal history.

Ms Marais said the initiative would aid “social inclusion” and help communities to celebrate their diversity.

“There can be no better manner to bring our services together than to tell our stories, listen to others stories and… share our life stories’,” she said.

She quoted Terry Pratchett: “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact it’s the other way around”; Carmen Naranjo: “Stories break silence and nourish those who work, feel and dream”; and Maya Angelou: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”.

Sharing stories, she said, could do a lot to change communities for the better in a time when the world “needs much healing”.

She added: “I encourage every person, regardless of age, gender, religion, cultural background or political affiliation, to share their stories. It doesn’t matter if it’s your life story, a specific period in your life, a professional, personal or social story. Any story based on your experiences
and how it affected you that you think is important should be shared.”

She said the sports community was also involved in the initiative because sport had the potential to change lives for the better.

She said the project would have a knock-on benefit for libraries and museums strengthening the role they played in communities.

“I envision that the personal histories and experiences in communities will live on so that future generations can celebrate their heritage,” she said.

Terry Murphy, of the Hout Bay Tourism Forum, was also at the launch. He said oral storytelling underpinned the forum’s plans to promote “living heritage” as a tourism drawcard.

The forum planned to established tourism routes around Hangberg, the harbour and Imizamo Yethu with tour guides including storytellers en route.

“Cultural and heritage memories told by people with direct experiences either themselves or though their family are always fascinating and will make visits to Hout Bay even more memorable,” he said.