Original Research

First-year History Education students’ personal narratives of the history of South Africa

Johan Wassermann
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 2 | a585 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i2.585 | © 2018 Johan Wassermann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2018 | Published: 27 November 2018

About the author(s)

Johan Wassermann, Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article is based on a free writing exercise given to 31 first-year History Education students in which they were, asked to write ‘The history of South Africa according to me’. Using narrative enquiry, the stories of the students, who all had History at school up to their final year, were analysed. What emerged was that South Africa as a political entity is focalised as a place where apartheid took place. Post-apartheid South Africa by contrast is narrated as a free and democratic place. It is focalised by the majority of students as a strong well-established country – a leading example to other nations. In line with this, the vast majority of students tended to limit their account of the history of South Africa to the period prior to the achievement of democracy in 1994. The personal narratives spoke about race being the dominant factor in their historical discourses.


first-year; history; education; South-Africa


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