Dundee Living within History – Sibongile

Dundee Living within History is a multifaceted heritage project which was launched in 2010, incorporating aspects of history, creativity and education.

In 2010 Vaughn Sadie and playwright/theatre maker Neil Coppen relocated to Dundee in Northern KwaZulu-Natal as part of a residency and project by the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) called Two Thousand and Ten Reasons to Live in a Small Town. During the project, they worked in conjunction with the Talana Museum, local historians, community groups, re-enactors, tour guides and learners.

With a culture of historical re-enactment (the tradition of replaying the past through performance) already existing in the town, Sadie and Coppen staged a series of unconventional re-enactments in public spaces around Dundee.

The second phase of the project began in 2013 and focused on documenting, recording and collaboratively reimagining aspects of Sibongile’s history. Sibongile is a township two kilometres outside Dundee and was formed through the implementation of the Natives Land Act of 1913. While the Talana Museum archives house extensive documentation pertaining to the town’s colonial history, scarce records of the formation and founding of the neighbouring township of Sibongile exist.

After a series of oral history workshops held at the Sibongile Library, teams of fifteen learners were sent out to record stories from their relatives and other residents, with their questioning centring on how the township came into existence. After this research period, the groups were asked to reflect on their findings through a series of collage workshops which incorporated photographs and visual materials collected from residents.

This short film was produced as a record, documenting some of the insights of the learners and participants.

For extensive documentation of the project, please follow the link to Dundee Living within History.