Original Research

On truth-telling and storytelling: Truth-seeking during research involving communities with an oral culture and a history of violent conflict

A G Vethuizen
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 10, No 4 | a86 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v10i4.86 | © 2014 A G Vethuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2016 | Published: 30 December 2014

About the author(s)

A G Vethuizen,, South Africa

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The aim of this article is to propose some principles and practices for truth-seeking during research into violent conflict. To achieve this aim, an argument is deployed by analysing the theoretical concepts “truth”, “myth” and “oral culture” as sources of knowledge. This conceptual analysis precedes a discussion on community-based participatory research (CBPR) as a research methodology to access the knowledge of lived experiences embedded in the oral culture of the San community of Platfontein, near Kimberley, South Africa. It was found that CBPR contains good practices to use in research to judge the probable truth about disputes. The CBPR process is ideal for determining the accuracy of data in the context of a specific culture, considering the norms, spiritual influences and personal considerations of knowledge-holders that accompany a unique cosmology. A variety and equity of worldviews and perspectives of what happened during violent conflict successfully challenges hegemonic power relationships, paradigms and narratives, ultimately leading to informed judgements of what is probably true about a conflict. CBPR with the San of Platfontein revealed principles that can be used as guidelines for researching disputes where oral culture is involved.


truth; myth; oral culture; CBPR; San; conflict; dispute


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