Annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture Delivered
The annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture invites prominent people to engage in dialogue on historical and social issues.
The lecture - which was held at the Campbell Collections on 17 October 2018 - is one of the most significant events held at the venue each year.
Professor John Wright, co-auditor of the famous James Stuart Archives Volumes, delivered this year’s lecture. Wright - who lectured History at the former University of Natal- is a research associate at the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand as well as in the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town. His research focus is the history of southern Africa before colonial times.
Wright’s keynote address was titled: Exploring the Life of Archives James Stuart, his Interlocutors, and their Interpreters”. For most of his life, Stuart recorded the history of the different tribes who occupied KwaZulu-Natal pre and post the reign of King Shaka Zulu. After his death, his manuscripts were bought by Killie Campbell and are housed at Killie Campbell Africana Library.
Stuart worked as a Native Affairs Commissioner during the colonial periods. Like Sir Theophelus Shepstone, he was employed by the colonial government to govern and control the affairs of the native tribes in Natal and Zululand through its “Divide and Rule Policy”.
Wright gave a detailed explanation on how the information was collected from the interviewees and how Stuart documented it. He also defined the social formation of the groups or tribes in pre-colonial and colonial periods.
The Annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture is a unique platform which aims to drive debate on critical social and political issues in South Africa and around the world. More than 50 people attended this year’s lecture. Campbell wanted everyone who was interested in research to be able to use her Killie Campbell library.
In 1956 - during the time of apartheid - she wrote that ‘this library is available by appointment for research work by professors, students and business workers both European and African.’ She also maintained that, ‘It is our bounden duty to see that all our treasures are collected and preserved for Natal. They are no longer our individual possessions, but belong by right to our Nation…’ Killie Campbell.
Words: Senzosenkosi Mkhize