Original Research - Special Collection: Social Memory Studies

Memorialisation of COVID-19 stories

Sindiso Bhebhe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 3 | a8718 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i3.8718 | © 2023 Sindiso Bhebhe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 March 2023 | Published: 18 August 2023

About the author(s)

Sindiso Bhebhe, Department of Information Science, College of Human Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Oral history is more than an epistemology of the subaltern who do not have any other avenues of narrating and preserving their ontologies. It transcends the academic domain and ventures into the field of therapy as it heals the broken hearted, the subjugated, the bereaved and in the process oscillating to an archive of memory and feelings. It is an epistemology that offers therapeutic healing not only to the downtrodden of the earth but also to the affluent members of the community. In this era of COVID-19 where people have suffered untold and unbearable pain, oral history comes handy as an epistemic memorialisation tool that can be used to offer therapeutic healing to the survivors, the affected, the infected and the nations. The article is based on the author’s views on how South Africa may memorialise COVID-19 through oral history and memorials among others. The article reviews literature on the world’s intentions in memorialising the pandemic and how South Africa can learn or unlearn from the proffered examples. The article also interrogates how oral history approaches, such as crowdsourcing of COVID-19 stories, can be manipulated so that it accommodates the pandemic’s narratives of the commoners found in the locations of South Africa. Research findings reveal that South Africa can learn a lot from the countries that have started to memorialise the pandemic in the sense that it has the experience, skills and infrastructure to do so.

Contribution: The study contributes to the ongoing debate about how to memorialise the COVID-19 pandemic taking into consideration the memory politics of inclusion and exclusion. The study is linked to the scope of the journal in the sense that it touches on the national memorialisation of the COVID-19 pandemic through oral history and memorials among others.


oral history; archives; memorialisation of COVID-19; COVID-19 memorials; politics of memory.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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