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Preserve your family history, urges historian

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“It is said that people without a history are people without a future”. These are the words of Dr Adiel Bassier from the Boorhaanal Movement ahead of Heritage Day on Saturday 24 September, in urging South Africans to dig deeper in understanding their social and cultural identities. While Heritage Day is better known by its new moniker, ‘Braai Day’ these days, Dr Bassier said the day was more than just about braaiing, but a chance to reflect on one’s roots.

His words imply that without knowledge of one’s past, it is only inevitable that past grievances will not be rectified and that the same mistakes are bound to happen once more. In a less cynical sense, the words also imply that it is vital to know the past of one’s-self in order to know what makes someone who they are. Our backgrounds are detrimental to the betterment of self-identity.

In a country that hosts a vast array of cultures, diversities and beliefs, the words are more of a reason to keep in mind. But, the day is also about taking pride in what makes us who we are and where we originate from. It is about celebrating our backgrounds and what we believe in. The day is a combination of celebration and remembrance.

Dr Bassier says that studying our history also opens the door for identifying short-comings and hallmarking our successes.

“We can use our history as a point of reference, a yardstick and a barometer of how we have progressed over the last 100 years in the various spheres of human endeavour. This way we can see if we are socially and socioeconomically better off since then,” said Bassier.

Bassier believes that our history can serve as a source of inspiration and motivation. He states that the inspiration and motivation can only be bestowed upon us if the trials and tribulations of our forbearers were to be studied.

“We can draw plenty of inspiration from iconic figures. Each and every one of us can delve into our history and will find a hero amongst our great-great-grandfathers,” said Bassier.

One way of passing on knowledge of history and preserving a family tree is by putting in effort to touch base with elderly people in communities that are willing to provide information on the past.

“The amount of time an elderly person has left is not known, so it would be a wise decision for youth to pay a visit to their elder relatives and query them about the family history. The information should be jotted down in order to preserve the family tree and the heritage within the family,” said Bassier.

Heritage Day has the power to bring people together to fight for the preservation of heritage and history. The day has brought about that exact power for the people that want to preserve District Six as a heritage site. VOC (Imran Salie)

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