WHAT IS HISTORY?
– History is the study of past, present and future historical events of both living and non-living things.
– These events can be social, economic or political events.
– Social refers to the way in which people in groups behave and interact that is their day to day activities e.g. social gatherings (Bira) and entertainment using drums, song and dance.
-Economic activities refer to anything that results in the acquisition and accumulation of wealth e.g. hunting and gathering, mining, agriculture and many others.
– Hunting and gathering were the major economic activities of ancient societies.
– Political refers to how societies are led or governed e.g. in the past societies were led by clan leader and chiefs.
-A person who studies history is called a historian.
WHY DO WE STUDY HISTORY / REASONS FOR STUDYING HISTORY.
We study history in order:
– to know our past because our past predicts and determines our future.
– to know developments which took place in the past for example tools used , leadership styles e.t.c.
– to take advantage of developments made by other people.
– to know our origin and identity.
– to know the history of our country, family, continent or world.
– to be united.
– to know past and present leadership styles and distribution of power in various government ministries.
– to be able to think critically on historical matters to come up with the real truth.
– to liberate or free human mind and level of thinking .
– to stimulate analytical skills on human matters in life.
– to fully become aware of our enemies, detractors and traitors as well as the reasons behind such circumstances and how best we can deal with these.
SOURCES/FORMS OF HISTORY
a) Oral Tradition/evidence.
b) Written records/evidence.
c) Archaeological records/evidence.
- Oral tradition
– Refers to the passing of historical information from one generation to the next through or by word of mouth.
– Information comes from eye witness i.e. those who were part and parcel of historical events or those who saw events happening.
– Eye witnesses are usually elders or local historians who know about certain historical events in their society.
– Audience(s) or listeners listen to the word of mouth.
– Information is given out by eye witnesses who know about certain historical events because they were part and parcel of them during the time in which those particular events happened.
– It is first-hand information which is useful in compiling written records.
– It can be distorted i.e. eye witnesses can alter/change information in terms of how certain events happened.
– It is destroyed when the eye witnesses die.
– It can also be exaggerated especially when the local historians only give or disseminate information about their success and ignore their failures i.e. lying.
- Written records
– They are records of information compiled from both oral tradition and archaeological evidence.
– These can also be written by eye witnesses of certain historical events.
– The quality of written evidence also depends on the side of the historian on certain historical events.
– Written records are stored in national archives and libraries in schools as records such as books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, journals, posters or as novels ready for reading by people.
– Written records are either primary or secondary sources.
– Information or evidence can be read by everyone irrespective of age, sex, religion, nationality e.t.c.
– Once compiled in a book or magazine, information cannot be destroyed easily.
– Written volumes of information can be stored permanently for future generations to use in either hardcopy or softcopy format.
– Some documents lack the truth as they tend to favour one side of the story especially the side the writer/historian favours most.
– Some written records can be biased that is being one sided e.g. favouring the Shona more than the Ndebele.
– Distortions or exaggerations of real facts may occur during compilation stage.
– Reflects the views of the historian which can be biased or even false at times.
– Microsoft Encarta Dictionaries (2009) defines archeology as the study of ancient cultures through remains: the scientific study of ancient cultures through the examination of their material remains such as buildings, graves, tools and other artifacts usually dug up from the ground.
– It refers to information obtained by archaeologists from the digging and studying of the remains of the past so as to write history.
-The people who study the remains of the past are called archaeologists.
– These remains of the past are called fossils.
– Such remains or fossils include bones, plants, clay pots, skins and various tools and clothing.
– Evidence is obtained from the study of past remains that will still be in original shape.
– Evidence is touchable and can also be stored in museums for future generations to use e.g. soap stones and the Zimbabwe Birds obtained at Great Zimbabwe.
– Archeology is an expensive method of extracting history. This is because it involves a lot of traveling and the material(s) used to study the remains of the past is also damn expensive.
– Historians sometimes have a bias in explaining remains of the past which gives a misleading picture of who actually made which tools or who constructed which building, for example European historians argue that Great Zimbabwe was not built by the Shona people (Zimbabweans)
– Other historians fail to explain the remains of the past clearly.