Original Research - Special Collection: Social Memory Studies

Challenges presented by digitisation of VhaVenda oral tradition: An African indigenous knowledge systems perspective

Stewart L. Kugara, Sekgothe Mokgoatšana
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 3 | a7428 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i3.7428 | © 2022 Stewart L. Kugara, Sekgothe Mokgoatšana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 February 2022 | Published: 21 September 2022

About the author(s)

Stewart L. Kugara, Department of Cultural and Political Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa
Sekgothe Mokgoatšana, Department of Cultural and Political Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa


The 21st century has witnessed an urgent need to digitise, learn, manage, preserve and exchange oral history in South Africa. This forms the background of the demonisation of indigenous knowledge systems that has impacted negatively and eroded the African values, norms, purpose, growth, sustainability and improvement of indigenous communities. In light of this realisation, this article explores the challenges offered by digitisation of VhaVenda oral history. It is well known that the digitisation of oral tradition carries both the good and the bad. Journalists, academics and archivists of oral history cannot become spectators and allow challenges to stop them from collecting, recording and managing valuable heritages. The article is premised upon the Sankofa and critical theory frameworks. An Afrocentric participatory and exploratory qualitative research design was employed to investigate the data. VhaVenda knowledge holders, journalists, academics, and archivists’ views were solicited using semistructured interviews. Participants were selected using purposive sampling. The article’s findings unveiled that the digitisation of VhaVenda oral tradition has been an acute daily agony because of the following thorny issues: language issues, methodological challenges, sponsorship and the politics of preferring. Because the country faces the danger of losing out on gaining the benefits of VhaVenda oral history, the authors encourage and promote a holistic approach embracing multiple stakeholders to overcome the challenges faced in digitising the VhaVenda oral tradition.

Contribution: The study advocates for the balancing of ancient traditional forms and relating them to present technology so that oral history trajectories march into the future, grounded in Afrocentric expressions whilst maintaining flexibility to accommodate the versatile nature of culture by embracing technology.


oral history; oral tradition; digitisation; indigenous knowledge systems; archivists; VhaVenda


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Crossref Citations

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