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Transfer of the EOAN Archive to DOMUS Print E-mail

Speech given by Dr. Stephanus Muller (Head of DOMUS) at the transfer ceremony of the EOAN archive to DOMUS on 23 April 2009:

Although tonight is a formal celebration and acknowledgement of the transfer of the EOAN archive to Stellenbosch, it only marks a point of arrival – and a new point of departure – in a much longer process of involvement between the Department of Music and the EOAN community. I should like to remind you all of the already long road that we have travelled to make tonight’s event possible. This is a story that started with a telephone call on 14 November 2006 to Santie de Jongh, the archivist of the Documentation Centre for Music (also known as DOMUS). The enquiry about EOAN documents by Mr Charles de Long, a former EOAN member, and Ms De Jongh’s diligent pursuit of information to help him, set in motion a series of visits and meetings between the Department of Music and the EOAN Board over the course of more than 12 months. Eventually, aided by generous funding from Stellenbosch University, the EOAN archive was transferred to DOMUS in the Department of Music on 23 February 2008. This happened after a permanent loan agreement had been reached between the current EOAN Board (based at the Joseph Stone Theatre) and DOMUS, subsequent to which a contract was signed on 28 January 2008.

Die voorsortering van die versameling het plaasgevind vanaf die middel van Maart tot Junie 2008. Gedurende hierdie maande het Santie de Jongh 105 dokumenthouers en meer as 750 dokumentelêers gelys en gestoor. Teen die einde van April het Hilde Roos, 'n doktorale student in opera in die Departement Musiek, begin om 'n chronologiese rekonstruksie van EOAN se geskiedenis te maak ten einde vas te stel hoe 'n boekprojek oor hierdie gevierde groep aangepak kon word. Mnr Jerome Slamat van Gemeenskapsinteraksie op Stellenbosch, mnr. Hilton Biscombe (sameroeper van die boek In ons bloed), mnr. Ronnie Samaai en prof. Albert Grundlingh van die Departement Geskiedenis het waardevolle advies gegee oor hoe die projek gerealiseer kon word. Dit was byvoorbeeld belangrik om die name te vind van mense wat oor die jare betrokke was by die projek, sodat idees ontwikkel kon word oor die moontlike inhoud en temas van die beplande publikasie.

On 1 October 2008 a meeting was held with the EOAN Board and important role players in the EOAN community in the Joseph Stone Theatre in Athlone. The aim of this meeting was to initiate the book project. This meeting was followed by a meeting with a larger group of former EOAN soloists, choir members, dancers and administrators in the District Six Museum in Cape Town. Eventually a public meeting to discuss the book project was held on 9 November 2008. It was attended by about 25 people, and had the main purpose of finding volunteers to participate in the book project. Four attendees volunteered at the meeting to become involved in the book project: Bishop John Ulster (brother of the conductor Dan Ulster), Mr Ronnie Samaai (brother of the tenor Gerald Samaai), Mrs Ruth Fourie (widow of the baritone Lionel Fourie) and Mr Wayne Muller (journalist at Die Burger). Together with the DOMUS team, these people now formed the EOAN Group Book Committee. The first meeting of this committee was held on 10 February 2009, chaired by Prof. Christine Lucia (Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Music), followed by a larger meeting on 26 February in which themes and ideas for the book on EOAN were explored. After this meeting, Mr Philip Swales, Chairman of the EOAN Trust, also joined the Book Committee. Already at this early stage, the process of discussion was being filmed by Aryan Kaganof, who had come on board to make a documentary film about the process of the EOAN book project for inclusion in the eventual publication. This development followed from the realization that the process of making a book on EOAN would be a fascinating contemporary process of how the South African past is negotiated, claimed, used, contested and eventually written by South Africans themselves. The idea therefore took root not only to compile an ethnography of memory as an historical celebration of EOAN, but reflexively to document the engagements between role players and their attendant emotions as glimpses on the ways in which a painful past is mediated in the present.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, we find ourselves here tonight to celebrate what has been achieved and to toast the exciting road ahead. To our special guests tonight, all of those who have been involved with EOAN over the years, my express wish would be that what happened to the EOAN archive that now rests in Stellenbosch is not seen as a ‘transfer’ of the material from your community to Stellenbosch University. Rather, I should like to suggest that like the archive, you are here individually and as a community because we are now part of you, as you became part of us when this process started more than two years ago. Although I no doubt welcome many of you here tonight for the first time, I anticipate a time in the future when I will encounter you or your children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren in these corridors to visit this archive, study at this institution or attend our concerts, a time when we will greet each other not as strangers meeting for the first time, but as a community united by our love for music and our interest in a shared past.

Stephanus Muller, Fismer Hall, Music Department, Stellenbosch University
23 April 2009

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