Ikageng, a township in Potchefstroom, Time Travel to 1986

Making placards and posters, writing poems and making speeches were some of the activities in the Time Travels. The learners were well prepared and they celebrated freedom heroes like Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela by singing freedom songs and shouting slogans of that time. It was almost like twenty years ago when their parents fought against apartheid.  

Background: A Living History Project according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Kronobergs County Council, the Växjo City Council in Sweden and the Tlokwe City Council in South Africa, started in 2008. Ebbe Westergren and colleagues from the Kalmar & Smålands museum introduced the Time Travel educational method as part of Local Historic Environment Education to various stakeholders at a workshop held in Potchefstroom in November 2008. A Working Committee (WC) was established under the chairmanship of Velaphi Fatyela, history teacher of Botoka High School, in order to plan a Time Travel in Ikageng. The working group consists of delegates from high schools in Ikageng, the Tlokwe Heritage Foundation, the Witz University and the Potchefstroom Museum. The Committee was tasked to compile information on the history of Ikageng, align the information with the school's curriculum and write a scenario for a Time Travel.  

Workshops, Training, Pilot Time Travel, Reflection In the two phases of the Time Travel, the pilot exercise (with adults) and the actual Time Travel with learners, workshops played an important role in training community members in the recording of oral history. The pilot phase involved only adults, many of whom were actually present at the meeting in the AME church in 1986. Then already, all participants were impressed by the possibilities of the Time Travel although they also realised that, in this case, real experience of adult participants (the learners/students of 1986) would have to be replaced by proper research and by training (by the present teachers and learners).  

Scenario, A public meeting with the Ikageng Civic Organization in the AME Church in Ikageng, February 1986.
In February 1986 the students of the Tlokwe secondary School gather at the AME church to plan a march to the police station to present a memorandum demanding the release of their fellow students and other people who are held without a trial. People in Ikageng are suffering from the state of Emergency and the Apartheid system. There is a total frustration and a huge anger. In Ikageng as well as in other parts of the country people protest. The idea is to make the country ungovernable. The people in the township are dissatisfied with the poor municipal services, housing, high rents, low wages, bad electricity, bad facilities for the schools etc. There are protest marches, rent boycotts and students boycotts.The situation is very tense as the police could arrive at any time to arrest people and disrupt the meeting.... How does the apartheid system and the State of Emergency effect us? What are our demands on the local level? What are our demands on the national level? What will be our actions?  

Evaluations learners: "My mind and my emotions was focusing in 1986. I did the Time Travel with all my heart and all my understanding." "Taking part in a Time Travel is a good way of understanding." "I learned something about our future, to take education as our key of success." "Doing action is where you learn" "We must include the white people" "I remember the feeling being united and supporting each other"  

Reflections from the Working Committee: Even if history is a sensitive subject in South Africa today, educators, learners and other people who attended the Time Travels, were amused by the talent that was unfolding inside the church through speeches, songs, dancing and reciting of poetry and "toyi toyi"! The evaluations by the learners and adults show the importance of the recording of local history and our local heritage sites. It is so sad that little is recorded about our history.  

Way forward: We intend combining the three high schools for a major Time Travel later this year. We also intend inviting other high schools around Ikageng into the Time Travel Committee. The aim is to introduce them to this pedagogical method to use mutual knowledge and experience to develop Historic Environment education and Time Travels.  

Velaphi Fatyela and Fanie van Rensburg, Potchefstroom Time Travel Committee