For want of a better title: Recieved Traditions

For want of a better title

Tall and Tan and oh so Sexy, the boy *not* from Ipanema goes walking by...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Recieved Traditions

Ok, so I played tourist today and visited the battle box on Fort Canning. With a little more time I would have loved to find my great grandfather's grave on that Hill too.

I have been working on the King's African Rifles during the Malayan Emergency for sometime, and to be honest it's not easy. That's why I am impressed that Ben and mr brown want to start oral history records. It's daunting because so many of them are too old to move about and also some languages we just don't speak at all. Try kiswahili out if you have a chance.

As a history student and lover (don't worry all you ladies out there, you know I love you all too), I really enjoy talking to the men who were on the ground. Everyday stories. I once heard an oral history recording of a man who was at Fraser's Hill, staying in the Singapore Government House up there when Tengku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew were discussing seperation. He just happened to be there on a break. Talk about timing, and of course no one knew this. The oral interviewer was doing it for the civil service collection. But it is everyday people who have non-everyday stories.

Like my dad, falling into the drain because he was so happy to see the British forces return at the end of WWII. Those are good stories. Or our guide Vince, who also had good stories to tell. As our WWII generation passes on, so too do their stories. Not the TCS stuff that keeps playing up stereotypes or the textbook stuff that only looks at the main actors. The everyday people who led their lives in that period. Often historians complain about the fact that the common voice is not heard, especially before the 20th century. Even now though the time for us to collect everyday stories is running out. I cannot blame the archives since they do a very good job already (applause) considering their limited funding and personnel. Heh... Those poor folk, they were so helpful the last time I was there.

So I applaud mr brown and mr miyagi for their effort. Let us walk amongst living History before we too become History. Lest we forget.


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