The Oral History Association of South Africa, (OHASA), promotes and protects archives from previously marginalised communities in order to bring about redress. The seed that brought about the birth of OHASA was planted in 1999 when the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) was mandated by Cabinet to conceptualise and spearhead the National Oral History Programme (NOHP) for South Africa. The Programme was intended to yield information that would be added to the information already existing in the country’s archival holdings. It was strongly felt that the dissemination and management of information and knowledge was crucial to the restoration and sustenance of the human dignity of many millions of people, which were ravaged by colonialism and apartheid.
OHASA has mushroomed into a springboard to develop, preserve, and promote oral history scholarship in the country. To this end, it intends to develop capacity among practitioners and students whose keen interest is in the archives, history, museum studies, the arts, heritage studies, indigenous knowledge, folklore studies, and oral studies.
One of the primary preoccupations of OHASA has been the planning and execution of annual oral history conferences, in conjunction with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) which plays a key role in shaping, inter alia, the conference theme.
These annual conferences serve as platforms for oral history practitioners in institutions of higher learning, NGOs, community organisations, educators, learners and local knowledge holders engage one another.
OHASA resolved on a rotation principle to allow provinces and districts to showcase their wares, and heritage resources. The rotation principle deepens representatitvity in the democartisation of conferencing as a tool to increase economic spin-offs derived from heritage tourism. This further increases the multiplier-effect of the economic resources accrued from conferencing and ist attendant residues. So far, the 2022 conference will be in the Northe Cape completing the second round, while the other conferences were held as follows:
OHASA purports to develop oral history in South Africa into a discipline with its canons and conventions. To do this, OHASA seeks to promote oral history as method, and a theory to analyse oral historical narratives. OHASA seeks to promote scholarship through engagements and partnerships. Firstly, in South Africa, as a result of colonialism and apartheid there are gaps in the public records and public knowledge, which are caused by deliberate omission of African knowledge, technologies, stories and philosophies from the mainstream of South Africa’s body of knowledge.