18:00 SAST

18:00  SAST

Gae Ke Kae?

Living Archive as a Mine of Cartographies

Matildah Maboyane

MArch 2022

Unit Leader: Tuliza Sindi
Unit Assistant: Tshwanelo Kubayi
Unit Assistant: Miliswa Ndziba

Unsettling Ground: Beyond the Terra Nullius


The work investigates the Archive as its ground condition, where colonial narratives and their corresponding spatial infrastructure operates as its components of erasure.

My reading of Archive is embedded in oral history (Sereto), and I define an archive as proof that life truly existed. A set of rituals, fragments of life, and pieces of time are interred on that specific ground.

The projection of the colonial fantasies[1] of the African landscape limit our understanding of who we are, as they override geologic and indigenous readings of place/home and time. This de-historicising colonial practice works alongside map-making as an instrument of archival measurement in the process of producing new/uncaptured/mobile grounds.

The broad research theme grounds itself in mobile ground conditions. People in pre-colonial Africa were constantly on the move, as described in Achille Mbembe's article The Idea of a Borderless World in Chimurenga. Movement was the driving force of the production of space.

The focus of the research is rooted in the personal history of my Bapedi family in BoTlôkwa, Limpopo, on the site of my maternal grandmother’s home. I approach my research through retracing methods such as oral mapping through intergenerational exchange, challenging static notions of home, memory, place and time. Through a series of plays occurring simultaneously with a script exploring the retracing of past performance of life in space that create an archive that account for experience, lived knowledge, and rituals, the work re-frames our understandings of home. And letter-writing as a tool to map migratory notions of home. The practice of ‘remembering’ is employed as both a means to recollect, as well as a means to reconstruct (re-member).

Gae ke Kae? proposes a living Archive as a Mine[2] of Cartographies begin to re-language the meaning and production of home that reconfigures one’s sense of place and belonging by setting the ground free and rendering it mobile again. While providing a glimpse into potential futures of accessing and engaging with home not only for myself but for future generations of my BaPedi family.
[1]Colonisation denies collective constructions of history in favour of a fictitious imaginary (Arfaoui, 2022). The etymology of ‘fantasy’ is derived from phantos, which means to render or make “visible” (fantasy l Etymology, origin and meaning of fantasy by etymonline, n.d.).

[2] ‘Mine’ is defined in the work as “an excavation in the earth for extracting coal or other minerals”, but is also defined as “an abundant source of something” (mine l Etymology, origin and meaning of mine by etymonline, n.d.).

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