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017-ICSHH2012-W00029 Essay

Words: 1131, Paragraphs: 77, Pages: 4

Paper type: Essay

The Impact of History on the Society

Ogunniyi, Olayemi Jacob

History Department,College of Human Sciences,University of South Africa,

Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract. Today history as a body of knowledge encompasses not only the events of the past but also their

consequences. Historians are no longer satisfied with the simple discovery of the past they tried as much as

possible no only to say what happened but also to show why and how it happened. This search for the causes

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of events remains the primary occupation of every thoughtful historian’s in order to give history a rightful

place in the society. It is instructiv e to note that, history is concerned with evidence about human beings who

have actually lived in the society. It is also concerned with how human lives have changed through time. It is

concerned not only with the explanation about the distant past but also with that of contemporary world.

Therefore, history is concerned with people in the soci ety, their interaction and their relationships with their


Key words:

Discovery, Evidence, Knowledge

1. Introduction

Historians are challenged by the complexity of the society, and many want to use their study to help

solve the problems of the present in the society. The question that can come to mind are numberless and as

such serous historical investigators must choose which among them they do not want to spend a lot of time

and effort pursuing the kind of question to which histor y has no answer. For instance, what is the purpose of

universe or who is the smartest person in the world? Nor do they want to struggle to achieve the solution to a

problem that is not of real importance to the society.

It should be noted that, historians choice among importa nt questions is determined by personal values, as

well as by the concerns of those who support the historian’s work by the nature of the time in which the

historian lives, or by a combination of all of these. De finitely the ways in which these influences operate are


+and historians themselves often are unaware of them.

History has a great impact on the society because the in teraction between the society and its past is an

unending one, the interaction is mutual and continuous . The past exists only in the mind and memories of

those in the present. Since history is said to be concerning with people in the society, their interaction and

their relationships, thus, history is both the past and th e study of the past. Its meaning therefore covers both

the reality of the past events and the effort of historians to capture or retrieve and interpret something of that

reality. In each of both senses, history interacts with the society, for the society is a product of history in the

sense of historical circumstances and events, and ther efore the society cannot escape from its past. At the

same time, it should be mentioned that, the society is sh aped by the effort of historians among others, who

endeavour to establish the history of the society influence its group memory and as well seek to define the

duties of people in the society that is the essence of what binds its pe ople together; what constitutes their

identity, what. makes them a people distinct from othe r peoples. History is involved because of historians

effort in shaping the group memory and self-perception of the society. When we say that the past interacts

with the present, often what we mean is not the past in terms of actual happenings so much as what

perceptions, what memories we have of the past. This is where the historians and writers come in and all who

shape our perceptions and group memories.

2. The Problematique of History

+ E-mail: [email protected]

Tel. 27780853133


By the end of World War Il in 1945, the British hold on Nigeria seemed secure enough. In spite of the

General strike sparked off by the radical Nigerian Railway Workers Union few could have imagined that

then we were entering the twilight of the colonial pe riod. The priorities of the nationalist movement at the

time were to prepare Nigerians for self-government rather than to demand self-government as such to

demand improved education and scholarship programmes, credit facilities in the banks for businessmen and

constitutional reforms to give Western-Educated Ni gerians some voice on the government among others.

By the 1950s, the slogan of the nationalist movement had become Nkrumah’s “”seek ye first the political

kingdom and all else shall be added unto you””. The nature of the nationalist movement and their vision of the

future became the object of various scholarly studies. Many of the studies concentrated on politics-political

parties, programmes and manifestoes constitutions. A fe w touched on wider issues particularly the goals of

the nationalist movement. The most influential work was probably James Coleman’s Nigeria background to

Nationalism, published in 1958. Kenneth O. Dike had an ticipated this and raised a number of issues in a

series of three articles published in 1953 February-March in West Africa entitled “”African History and self-

government from the British by Nigerian politicians w as not an end but a means to an end. The end being

society-building,, and that society-building required the mobilization and orientation of people’s history, in

the sense of the writings of historians. Therefore historians had a crucial role to play by putting straight the

history of the peoples in the society.

3. Conclusion

This paper tried to show that history interacts with th e society not only in the sense of the past interacting

with the present, but also in th e sense that the writings of historians and the thoughts and ideas of the

intellectual community’, have played an essential role in the evolution peoples in the society.

The interaction between history and the society is obviously not one way since it is the society that

provides the context and the resources for historians and the intellectual community to do their work, and

part of the functions that history as an intellectual disci pline performs in society is to elucidate a problem by

tracing its antecedents.

4. References

[1] Ade Ajayi J.F (1990) History and the Nation an d other addresses Spectrum Books Ltd. Ibadan.

[2] Barnes H.E (1963): A History of Histori cal Writing (Second Revised Edition, N.Y.)

[3] Barraclough G. (1979) Main Trends in History (Holme s & Meier, N.Y.) Dike K.O. & Ajayi, J.F A (1968)

“”African Historiography”” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences vol. VI Pp 394-400 (ed. David

Shills, Macmillan & Free Press.

[4] Elton G. R (1967): The Practice of History Collins Frontane.

[5] Gardiner P. (1978): The Nature of Historical Explanation, London Oxford University Press.

[6] Geoffrey Barraclough (1957): History in a Ch allenging World. Oxford University Press.

[7] Gooch G. P. (1952) History & Historia n of the Nineteenth Century New York.

[8] Henry S.C. (1965): The Nature & Study of Histor y. Ohio Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company.

[9] Reinhard B, & Max W. (1960): An inte llectual Portrait (Garden City New York)

[10] Thomas Hodgkin (1975): Nigerian Perspectives: An Hist orical Anthology. First Published by West African

Publishing Company 1960; Second Edition, Oxford University Press



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