30 August 2010

TALKING HERITAGE: Personal Reflections on Museums and the Promise of...

TALKING HERITAGE: Personal Reflections on Museums and the Promise of...: "Bongani Mgijima, Grahamstown The promise of transformation in museums has been a recurring theme even before the advent of democracy. Cent..."

26 August 2010

Follow up on the traditional healers recognition blog

Well about the story of KZN Provincial initative in traditional healing story issued by Drum magazine & 2005-2010 intergrated traditional healing report in HIV/AIDS collaboration.It is argued that Kwazulu Natal provincial legislature has given a it's Health department a go ahead to incoporate traditional healing in their main stream health services by allowing these healers to use their normal doctors consulting rooms formally.Some of them are placed within local clinics and hospitals which allows them to make referals to state hospitals.Then again their consulting rooms get equiped by their traditional healing kit starting from drums down to traditional insence(impempo) they use when consulting permissible to be used within the premises.This is a step forward towards recognition of Indigenous knowledge systems in our health care.

These traditional healers are well known around KZN in their practice and after several training sessions & workshops they are issued with practice numbers so as to allow them to open surgeries and be able to sell their medicines officially.They also are permissible to issue out sick note and referal letters when in need as per the Drum article.

Such initiative has been in existence since 2003 co-funded by US Presidential emergency affairs and the state.There are some other stake holders such as CDC(centre for disease control& prevention),Ethekwini municipality & University of Kwazulu-Natal.The project leader is Professor Nceba Ggaleni of KZN.It is also argued that regular workshops are held to facilitate better working relations between Health workers and traditional healers thus creating guidelines on where to start and end between the affected healers and doctors.Also a matter of what to be prescribed and how by these traditional healers is dealt with by UKZN school of medicine through various laboratory tests.Diseases such as TB,Diabetes,HIV & AIDS Diagnosis are sometimes dealt with in traditional manner in the said province.KZN Provincial health care has pioneered the recognition of traditional healing,a step forward towards a better acknowledgement of our Indigineous knowledge systems.Something that most of us has been longing to let it happen in our new inclusive democratic society.

Due to success of this collaboration,University of Witswatersrand is now planning to launch a Bachelors degree up to Masters level in indigenous knowledge systems for Sangomas(Amagqirha)and traditional healers.It has not been explained up to now how will the selection criteria be followed on how to register,since most of them have no matric level so far.

Information researched & analysed by: Phumeza N.Mntonintshi
Anthropology Curator-Albany Museum
August 2010

Traditional healing & Govt collaboration in some parts of South Africa

Grahamstown water passes test

GRAHAMSTOWN’S toxic tap water has finally been given a clean bill of health by independent testers – six months after a Dispatch investigation exposed dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals in the precious resource.

Although the latest test results by Amatola Water show efforts by Makana municipal officials to sort out the problem have resulted in the water meeting strict Department of Water Affairs standards, local experts yesterday called for regular tests every week – instead of once a month.

After seven frustrating years of trying to get feedback on water test results from municipal officials, Kowie Catchment Campaign’s Dr Jim Cambray is happy that since the Dispatch published the report, efforts had been made to release the test results on the local authority’s website. However, the KCC – a group of “concerned” residents and experts “interested in water quality – questioned why no testing had been done in the industrial area – a hotspot for heavy metal contamination six months ago.

With recorded arsenic levels “seven times higher” than allowed by law, Dr Cambray said it was vital to check water quality there.

According to the latest municipal report on water quality testing, the results met the strict Department of Water Affairs South African National Drinking Standard requirements.

Spokesperson Thandy Matebese yesterday said while the quality of water at times “was not the best – it was still within the required government guidelines”.

“Although I have always maintained our water is safe to drink, it is good to know things are improving.”

Matebese said although Amatola only tested the water once a month, ongoing checks were done every week by municipal staff – “as required by law”. - By DAVID MACGREGOR
Port Alfred Bureau


20 August 2010

ISIVIVANE SOLWAZI - Monument to Knowledge

Albany Museum and Robben Island Museum

Robben Island Museum has partnered with the Albany Museum in hosting learners for this year's Spring School Nation Building Camp which will take place on Robben Island from 24 September until 03 October 2010.

The theme for this year is Resistance and Resilience of the Human Spirit Against the Forces of Evil”: Africa Unite & Fight Xenophobia”.

An unforgettable Learning Experience

The Robben Island Spring School aims to create an unforgettable learning experience that the participants will treasure for life. Each year, a new theme, is tailored to focus on the interpretation theme as found in the Robben Island Museum Integrated Conservation Management Plan. This theme is then linked to topical, burning and relevant issues that affect our country.

Lessons to be Learnt

In 2010 the Spring School will be looking into the definition and the causes of Xenophobia. What lessons can be learnt from the notorious history of South Africa, where people were treated different because of the color of their skin, where the so-called undesirable members of society were banished or imprisoned? The treatment political prisoners received differed because of race, how they managed to overcome the divisive measures of Apartheid.?

Journey Through a Layered History

During their time on the island the journey will take the participants through the layered history of Robben Island, which consist of: banishment, hardship, isolation and imprisonment interwoven with resistance, resilience, tolerance and the triumph of the human spirit over hardship.

Learners will also get an opportunity to explore the island, interact with Living Heritage Resources (ex political prisoners), discover the history of the island and engage with their peers around the theme of Spring School 2010.

Xenophobia and Costumes

In order for learners to deal with the theme effectively they have been given pre-tasks before their journey to Robben Island.

Xenophobia Research - Learners asked to conduct research in their community on Xenophobia and to Write a mini research essay dealing with Xenophobia

The second task is for learners to bring along a cultural/traditional/customary attire/costume or dress and must conduct research on what this special costume/attire says about the learner and his / her community .When is it worn and by whom? Why is it important to the learners or his /her community?


Learners will showcase and share this information with other participants. This is an opportunity for learners to celebrate and introduce their culture to their peers from South Africa and Namibia

On Robben Island the learners will be hosted by Ms Sandra Daniels and Ms Vuvu Mayongo of the Robben Island Museum Education Department. Ms N Madinda of the Albany Mobile Museum Service is responsible for coordinating learners from the Eastern Cape.

19 August 2010

African story telling context-a living heritage


This is a personal view on the African story telling context, no formal research conducted as such but reference is made through the experiences as a member of the so-called Indigenous Nguni Ethnic group. In this case Xhosa speaking which story telling forms part of the treasured living cultural heritage. The focus would positively look at influences of storytelling and a gender role involved. The environment that is basically used to educate and to alert listeners will also be discussed.


Story telling in African tradition context can be regarded as a living heritage. It has been happening for centuries dating back even during the time of our forefathers. Again story telling in the traditional societies was done orally. There are various effects contributing to that. To mention but just one as an example is the fact that story tellers themselves are not learned people. They use their treasured memories to keep and then transfer their knowledge from generation to another. The grannies who usually becomes centre of attraction were good memorizers and unfortunately could n’t read and write but of cause would remember a lot for generations to come.

When arguing that kind of a skill transference again one can somewhat regard story tellers as treasured Cultural living heritage of our times. Then again story telling becomes a gender role non contested in Traditional African societies. It became a popular female role more especially the aged or grandmoms.There are various effects on that as well since they are always available at home having less to do compared to young females who have to do various household chores such drawing water from nearby rivers,cooking,cleaning ,etc.In the case of man ,they are always out on the fields ,veld,at work or at times involved in the battles which occurs to protect women and children.

In most cases a man as the head of the family is always expected to provide food for his household. And when danger approaches we look ahead for his power to control the situation. Then story telling would be a least of his priorities.Infact it is not that they undermine that role but they were always not available at home most of the times in search of work or in battles.

We have to look at where most of the story telling happens, my argument would say it always becomes a rural area or a village in rondavels besides fire places at night. Someone else can ask why a specific time. It’s when everybody is around; this is also a unifying tool for the family since it creates a warm situation and understanding of one another. Then again story telling was not just for tales but learning and training tool for kids to be educated on life skills and awareness. Life experiences are transferred without the form of a formal learning environment but by word of mouth.

This is regarded as a natural gift bestowed on adults to be transferred to future generations for keeps. No records were kept during the process but a system was followed genuinely and respectably. Noise level becomes less since everyone listens’ attentively and with curiosity to find out the result and also as a sign of respect to the story teller because of her age. Story telling was a tool used to test a child’s brain and memory status. Remember story telling is not only for Africans but a universal language amongst all ethnic groups i.e. in Africa and abroad. In our case we have transferred and kept that treasured knowledge orally not in written form. There is no such formula that blocks one on how to tell stories as such. In many learned environment story telling would be done by a mother or a father at bedtime in the form of singing and reading to make a child sleep. When it comes to traditional storytelling, beds were not known or famous then when everybody is gathered by the fire place the granny would start the session and so forth.

Traditional reed mats were used to sit and sleep in those huts. When it comes what the stories were about, you would notice that commonly the environment, animals; plants were used since they are known to the teller and listeners. Story telling was regarded more like a norm or tradition.

Here are the tools used during oral tradition/story telling:

Model of a Xhosa dressed traditional doll
This resembles the aged story teller.

Model of traditional reed mat which is usually used to sit the audience as well as for sleeping purposes since there were no chairs available at that time.

Rondavels/huts used during story telling sessions-inside there will be fireplace

Target audience for story telling usually mixed with boys of the same age.

Environment used as reference material of storytelling, it varies as per the narrator what she would like to talk about no boundaries outlined as such.

Information written and compiled by: Phumeza N.Mntonintshi & Nomthunzi Api
Albany Museum, Grahamstown-Anthropology dept.

17 August 2010

OBITUARY: Mark Hipper (November 6, 1960 – August 11, 2010)

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed Grahamstown artist Mark Hipper, whose risqué art exhibitions have at times caused public outrage, has died. Hipper, aged 49, died unexpectedly of natural causes, apparently from diabetes-related complications, at his Grahamstown home last week.

In 1998 Child Welfare and some other organisations slated Hipper’s National Arts Festival exhibition, Viscera, billed as an exploration of child sexuality and featuring line studies of nude children. It sparked a national debate about artistic freedom and pornography.
Cabinet minister Lindiwe Sisulu called it child pornography and, controversially, threatened to ban the exhibit. However, her Film and Publication Board dubbed the exhibit “bona fide artwork” and gave it the thumbs up. The Director of Public Prosecutions took its cue from the board and refused to prosecute the artist.
At the time of his death, the Rhodes University’s Fine Art Department lecturer was on sabbatical and preparing for a new exhibition entitled Doppelgänger/Double, to be held at the Erdmann Contemporary in Cape Town next month.
Rhodes University said in a statement yesterday that Hipper’s new body of work comprises three large canvas paintings and several smaller canvases for Doppelgänger/Double.
“In eschewing representational art, and yet embracing the figure as the truth of art, Hipper was often misconstrued as courting controversy for controversy’s sake,” said the statement.
Hipper exhibited extensively both internationally and in South Africa and his work is represented in numerous important collections both locally and abroad. He has received numerous art awards.
The statement said his “fidelity to great art forced him to confront the tired, hackneyed ruses of representation by investigating ways of luring the viewer into confronting the ambiguity of images in contemporary society”.
Rhodes said that Hipper was much loved as a kind, thoughtful, generous teacher and friend.
He is survived by his mother Nena, sister Marie-Louise, brother Gerd, nieces Thandiwe and Caitlin, and nephew Matthias.
A memorial service will be held in Grahamstown, tomorrow at 3pm at the Rhodes University Chapel. It is understood the Doppelgänger/Double exhibition will go ahead in Cape Town on September 29. — DDR


16 August 2010

Museums strives for accessibility

By: Zongezile Matshoba

A temporary touch display with labels in Braille, a recipe book on wild vegetable also in Braille, and Kuyasa art works that were prepared amazed every participant, thanks to Zach Taljaard, the Albany Museum Exhibition Officer.

Accessibility, other than employment, is the thorniest issue out of all things that still face people with physical challenges. This was made clear in a workshop organised by the Accessibility Advisory Committee, Focus on the Person, held at Albany Museum on Thursday, 12 August 2010.

Toyoyo Koliti, standing on his crutches, was emphatic on his challenge to all.

“Do not lose focus, or you will end up being a beggar. Fight for accessibility, employment and equality.”

He ascertained that there is a great need for research to be conducted and data collected about disabled people to convince employers of their skills and capabilities.

“Be a specialist in your disability. Get skills. Be independent. Convince other people to give help only when it is needed.”

Koliti is totally opposed to disabled people being part of a quota system to employment equity. He added that they are always at work, doing the job as required, and will be on leave only for valid reasons.

Slovo Dyira, 16, a grade 9 learner at Mary Waters High School reflected on the challenges facing school going learners.

“Our parents have to go and beg principals to accept us. We are constantly teased by other learners.” Two representatives from Settlers Hospital, Vera Fainstone, the audiologist and Robyn Ashbolt, the occupational therapist took everyone through sign language and wheelchair usage. People were taught that there are many wheelchairs which are made according to each individual’s specific needs. With the sign language, although alphabets are international, every region has its own sign. People were taught how to say “how are you” and “thank you”. Bongani Nangu shared how blind people negotiate their way at home and in town.

Three short films, two about people on wheel chairs, and the third one about a blind person were also shown. Francine Mukendi also talked about the inaccessibility of the Rhodes University's Steve Biko Student Centre. This building also has Rhodes Music Radio, the Student Resource Centre and the Career Centre.

Tony Dold from the Selmar Schonland Herbarium entertained the audience with lovely jembe drum beats that left everyone enjoying the feeling of the sounds.

Some of the original committee have left but Taljaard, Agata Runowicz-Forsdyke, Luc and Karen Marechal, Phumlani Cimi have been with committee all the way. This year they were joined by Heine Kohl, HOD Maintenance and Amy van Wezel, the History intern.

The committee warmly thanked Fruit and Veg City for the fruit that kept everyone healthy, and Pick n Pay for the committee's birthday cake and biscuits.

12 August 2010

National Science Week launched

On the 29 July and 1 August 2010 three staff members of Albany Museum, Nozipho Madinda, Ntombekhaya Mtyobo and Luvuyo Mayi attended two separate launch events of the National Science Week held at Fort Hare University (Alice) and at The Great Place at Cofimvaba (Transkei) respectively. At Fort Hare, the exhibitions were represented Albany Museum, Bayworld, Saiab, Rhodes University, 1820 Settlers Monument, Grocott’s Mail (Upstart), National Zoolology, Pest Industrial, Oxford Publishers, and FOSST.

Madinda, head of Mobile Museum had a talk with the students and educators about the history of the Albany Museum and its departments. She mentioned the science research departments and the museum collections that are created by specialists in the fields. She also mentioned the role of the education department that provides education programmes and offer lessons to schools.
Mobile Museum is an educational project designed to take educational museum resources to farm, rural and urban communities that are unable to visit the museum.
Madinda told the learners of Alice and Cofimvaba about the museum science careers such as palaeontologist, entomologist, anthropologist, ichthyologist, archaeologist, and botanist. They were so impressed and the group of boys said that it is for the first time they heard about the museum careers, and asked which learning areas they can take. She was also interviewed by the national Department of Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pando about the museum stall. Albany Museum stall was of a high standard resulting in the national broadcaster, SABC’s Morning Live taking live pictures, using the stall as a backdrop.
Mtyobo presented the Herbarium artefacts called IMPEPHO (everlasting) (scientific name Helichrysum odoratissimum) and UMTHONZIMA (Sea Bean) (scientific name Entanda rheedii). She said impepho protect people in evil spirit and umthonzima gives people lucky.
Mayi presented a dinosaur and fossils lesson, and it was a great. It was stimulating, and learners asked many questions. Mayi answered them with full confidence.
At Fort Hare University, Derek Hanekom Deputy Minister of the Department of Science and Technology explained clearly that the students can make research about others careers which they can follow. He further said that the Museum can assist the students to choose other careers except teaching and nursing.
Naledi Pando the Minister of science and technology emphasized that there are better ways of living these days as there are bursaries and scholarships so that they can have better education. She encouraged learners to do maths and science.

06 August 2010

SA scientist finds ancient mammal-like croc

THE international journal Nature published an article yesterday about Johannesburg-based scientist Zubair Jinnah, who discovered the holotype of a new species in Tanzania – an ancient crocodile with mammal-like teeth.

“The unusual creature is changing the picture of animal life 100million years ago in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wits University in Johannesburg in a statement.
The fossils were discovered in the Rukwa Rift Basin of Tanzania in 2008.
“I discovered the specimen, which has an articulated skull, vertebrae and limb elements, whereas previously discovered material found by our research team of the same species in previous years was of isolated or incomplete elements,” said Jinnah, who is a sedimentologist and an associate lecturer in the Wits School of Geosciences.
Sedimentology is the study of modern sediments such as sand, mud and clay. Jinnah’s research focuses on fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks. “This specimen will now form the holotype (reference material) of the new species,” said Jinnah.
Patrick O’Connor, associate professor of anatomy at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the specimen’s teeth made the discovery very interesting.
“If you only looked at the teeth, you would not think this was a crocodile. You would wonder at whether it is a strange mammal or mammal-like reptile.”
The new species, named Pakasuchus (Paka is the Ki-Swahili name for cat and souchos is Greek for crocodile), is a small animal whose head would fit into the palm of a person’s hand.
“Other aspects of its anatomy suggest that it was a land-dwelling creature (unlike water-dwelling crocodiles) that likely feasted on insects and other small animals to survive,” said the Wits statement.
“The new species … is a member of a very successful side branch of the crocodyliform lineage that lived during the Mesozoic era.” — Sapa

SOURCE: Daily Dispatch , Friday , 6 August 2010