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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Mediale Aufbereitung und Vermittlung des nationalen Kulturschatzes aus der ‘Hoffmann-Kolletion de Nord-Sotho-Kulturerbes’ für die Öffentlichkeit und Fachwissenschaft in Deutschland und Südafrika

The top priority of this project is to recognise the Hoffmann Collection as a national treasure and to safeguard it not only for scientific use, but also for the Northern Sotho people themselves. The project further envisages the opening up of this collection for future research, especially for African scholars with the necessary African language competency; the repatriation of this endangered cultural heritage from Germany to South Africa through the use of new technology such as scanning, digitization and electronic media; and the collecting and dissemination of available – as well as newly accumulated research data for future research.

 

BMBF-project: Deutsch- Südafrikanisches Jahr der Wissenschaft 2012/2013: www.deutsch-suedafrikanisches-wissenschaftsjahr.de

 

BMBF-Förderungsdauer: 09.2012 – 04.2013

 

Projektleiterin: Dr. Annekie Joubert
Mitarbeiterin: Katarzyna Biernacka

 

 

Hoffmann Collection of Northern-Sotho Cultural Heritage HC-NoSo-CH

Grave concern exists currently amongst African scholars and international organizations (e.g. UNESCO) for the repatriation of material related to traditional Indigenous Knowledge Systems to the countries of their origin.

A combined research team under leadership of Dr. Annekie Joubert from the Seminar for African Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Germany and researchers from the University of Pretoria (Prof. Lize Kriel and Ms. Klaudia Ringelmann) and the University of South Africa (Prof. Inge Kosch and Prof. Gerrie Grobler) has been working on the “Hoffmann Collection of Northern Sotho Cultural Heritage” (HC-NoSo-CH) for the past two years. Missionary Carl Hoffmann, together with a number of Northern Sotho mission assistants, gathered between the years 1894 and 1943 an unrivalled collection of Northern Sotho cultural heritage.

The top priority of this project is to recognise the Hoffmann Collection as a national treasure and to safeguard it not only for scientific use, but also for the Northern Sotho people themselves.  The project further envisages the opening up of this collection for future research, especially for African scholars with the necessary African language competency; the repatriation of this endangered cultural heritage from Germany to South Africa through the use of new technology such as scanning, digitization and electronic media; and the collecting and dissemination of available – as well as newly accumulated research data for future research.

The research team makes use of an interdisciplinary approach in their pursuit to synthesize the different aspects present in the Hoffmann material – ranging from linguistics, oral literature, culture, anthropology, religion, history and visual arts. The project itself provides the “staging space” for intermediality as the team examines Hoffmann’s means of expression and communication by looking at the different forms of media he used – varying from oral transcriptions in an outdated orthography, scientific articles, popular articles, handwritten diaries and notes, printed essays, black and white drawings, colour drawings and analogue photographs – interconnecting it with modern media in the form of digital databases as well as digital photography and film.  The outcome of the research project in the form of a scientific text edition (book publication) interconnected with a DVD and a comprehensive data base will open new perspectives on Northern Sotho linguistics, oral literature, cultural heritage and visual arts embedded in historiography.

The HC-NoSo-CH-Project is a truly international effort between tertiary research institutions of the Republic of South Africa and of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland and goes beyond the institutional boundaries of the universities by involving the archives in Berlin (Evangelischen Landeskirchlichen Archiv in Berlin) and the library archive of the University of South Africa. The director of ELAB Dr. Wolfgang Krogel regards this project as a pilot project for the international exchange of archive material in a digital format.

The project was selected in August 2012 to form part of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013 (YoS). With two activities in South Africa and Germany, the research team aspires to increase the level of public awareness of Germany and South Africa as research partners by sharing the fruits of unique academic cooperation in the field of Social Science and Humanities.

 

Report on 1st activity: Workshop at the University of Pretoria (October 2012)

The 1st activity, a two-day workshop on “Archiving Colonial Knowledge”, took place at the University of Pretoria in October 2012. On October the 1st and 2nd 2012, the Department of Visual Arts in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, hosted a German South African Year of Science event sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Dr. Annekie Joubert of the Institute for Asian and African Studies at the Humboldt- University Berlin, together with her South African research partners Gerrie Grobler, Inge Kosch, Lize Kriel, Sam Moifatswane and Klaudia Ringelmann), reported on their progress with the project on Missionary Carl Hoffmann’s Collection of Northern Sotho Cultural Heritage.

The audience of approximately forty guests included students and specialists in the fields of linguistics, archives, history, literature, art history, visual studies, text analysis, anthropology and archaeology. Delegates from the German Embassy, the National Research Foundation, the Department of Arts and Culture, the University of Pretoria’s International Office as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa were also present.

Thanks to an agreement facilitated by Dr. Joubert between the descendants of Missionary Hoffmann, the Church Archive Centre in Berlin and the Unisa Archives in Pretoria, the project will lead to the Hoffmann material becoming accessible to researchers in digital form.

               Dr. Wolfgang Krogel, Director of the Berlin Mission Archive, gave an enlightening presentation on the history of the making, storage, neglect and eventual ordering of the records of the Missionary Society which Hoffmann had worked for. On a visit to the UNISA Archives, Ms Marié Coetzee led the workshop participants through a display showing the variety of Hoffmann publications and manuscripts in this South African repository – including the original illustrated diaries in Süterlin script.

               Missionary Hoffmann produced his written legacy during his long career in Southern Africa, from the late 1890s until his death in the early 1960s. His personal files and official correspondence give intriguing insight into the daily activities of a missionary/teacher/ethnographer. So do the published magazine articles, manuals and text books written in Northern Sotho for use in African Lutheran congregations and schools. Hoffmann also published numerous popular and scientific articles, biographies and folktales (in German, Afrikaans and English). Through these, together with his remarkable sketches and photographs, Hoffmann attempted to capture the knowledge systems of the communities amongst whom he carried out his religious mission for a European audience.

               The first phase of the Hoffmann project envisages a new contemporary audience for the remarkable information compiled for publication in academic journals by Hoffmann and his interlocutors almost a century ago. It will entail an annotated source publication in which these articles will be rendered in the current Northern Sotho orthography, published alongside, for a first time, an English translation of the texts.

               Besides presentations on the Hoffmann Collection, scholars working on similar projects involving the archiving of colonial knowledge, also participated in the workshop, sharing their expertise with Joubert’s team. Presentations by Ria van der Merwe, Mahunele Thotse, Cilliers Breytenbach, Dishon Kweya and Keith Dietrich challenged regular notions of the confines of an archive, and proposed new postcolonial meanings. Sekiba Lekgoahti, who had published on the archive of state ethnographer NJ van Warmelo (a contemporary of Hoffmann), John Wright, well-known for his remarkable work on the James Stuart Archive and Carolyn Hamilton, NRF Chair for Archive and Public Culture at UCT, also generously shared from their experience.

 

photo galary on web page "German-South African Year of Science" by BMBF

 

The 2nd activity: Cultural evening at SA Embassy, Berlin Germany (11 April 2013)

The 2nd activity will take the form of a Cultural evening at the SA Embassy in Berlin and is planned for 11 April 2013. At this occasion the visual part of the Hoffmann collection will be put on display. The evening will start out with the screening of a documentary film – “The Making of a Missionary” on the life of Carl Hoffmann and his “long conversation” with the Northern Sotho people amongst whom he lived and worked for a life time. The film will be followed by a podium discussion on the role and exchange of archive material; and the use of visual material (film, photos, drawings, objects) as research instruments. Experts in the field of African Languages, Anthropology, Mission History, Visual Studies and Archival Repositories from South Africa and Germany will be invited to take part in this discussion. The discussion will be closed with the official exchange of digitized material between the Executive Director of Library Services (Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata) from the University of South Africa and the Director Dr. Wofgang Krogel of the Evangelisches Landeskirchliches Archiv in Berlin (ELAB). The evening will be concluded with a reception during which time visitors can view a photo exhibition on the “long conversation” of missionary Hoffmann and the Northern Sotho evangelists who assisted him. The exhibition will be accompanied by an elucidatory catalogue.

 

Workshop participants: University of Pretoria 1-2 October 2012

Workshop participants: University of Pretoria 1-2 October 2012

 

Prof. Inge Kosch, Dr. Annekie Joubert and Prof. Lize Kriel

Prof. Inge Kosch, Dr. Annekie Joubert and Prof. Lize Kriel

 

Dr. Annekie Joubert and Prof. Carolyn Hamilton

Dr. Annekie Joubert and Prof. Carolyn Hamilton

 

Text by:

Dr. Annekie Joubert
Project leader of HC-NoSo-CH
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Prof. Lize Kriel
Co-partner and scientific researcher
University of Pretoria, South Africa