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Whose Truth Is True?: The Use of Archival Principles to Authenticate Oral History

Whose Truth Is True?: The Use of Archival Principles to Authenticate Oral History
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Author(s): Mpho Ngoepe (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: 2020
Pages: 13
Source title: Handbook of Research on Connecting Research Methods for Information Science Research
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patrick Ngulube (University of South Africa, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1471-9.ch016

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Abstract

African societies use memory to store valuable historical information. This memory is passed from generation to generation through oral history. This method uses oral testimony, oral tradition, and, to some extent, archival sources for evidence. This memory is in danger of being obliterated as the historical truth is not directly accessible, or, in some instances, the truth can be distorted to suit the griot. While traditional archival principles such as archival diplomatics are used to authenticate records, oral history is often characterised by deliberate distortion of facts. This chapter explores the use of archival principles to authenticate oral history. It was established that some elements of archival principles can be used to authenticate oral history. Written records and oral history can complement each other to provide the ‘whole truth'. It is concluded that oral history fits the description of a record. The griot is no different from any medium of a record and is as reliable as any other medium.

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