25 February 2011

Mandela and Parks never gave in

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Professor Ben Magubane is thrilled to have known both Nelson Mandela and Rosa Park. Magubane left South Africa in the 1960s after a land dispute between his father and a farm owner. He arrived in the United States to study at the University of California (UCLA). In 1962 he had a privilege of shaking Parks hand when she visited to address the university students.

“I was amazed that this ordinary woman started what sparked the civil rights movement throughout USA,” Magubane said. He was a keynote speaker during the official opening of the Dear Mr Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks: Children's Letters - Global Lessons Exhibition. This exhibition opened at Albany History Museum on 24 February 2011.

Parks was a humble Southern person who sat down in a bus and refused to vacate her seat for a white person and go and sit at the back where blacks or people of colour were suppose to be seating.

Mandela, on the other hand, is an aristocrat, an Mkhonto Wesizwe veteran whose political career was shaped by Walter Sisulu when they met in Johannesburg. He spent 27 years in prison fighting for democracy and human rights.

“The rest is history,” Magubane added.

Magubane was introduced by Professor Jimi Adesina, a sociologist from Rhodes University. Adesina applauded that Magubane studied under difficult conditions.

He said, “Magubane is one of the finest, outstanding sociologist although he started studying very late. If he could achieve that in that period so could our children today”.

The exhibition is at Albany History Museum until after the National Arts Festival. It will also have an educational component where learners will be encouraged to write more letters to honour and thank their heroes who have made a difference just like Mandela and Parks did.

Kwezi Mpumlwana, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha gave background to the exhibition.

The letters will be posted to the Nelson Mandela Museum, courtesy of the stamps and stationery donated by the South African Post office.

24 February 2011

Stamp it on

By: Zongezile Matshoba

The South African Post Office delivers whatever it takes indeed. SAPO has joined hands with Albany Museum in Grahamstown and the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha to ensure that letters have stamps when posted. 600 stamps and other educational material have been donated for children’s letters that will be written during the Dear Mr Mandela...Dear Mrs Parks Children's Letter - Global Lessons education lessons. This is an outreach programme and part of the exhibition which opened at Albany History Museum on 24 February 2011.

The Dear Mr Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks: Children’s Letters, Global Lessons is a collaborative exhibition developed by the Nelson Mandela Museum in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and Michigan State University Museum and the Keeper of the Word Foundation in the United States. It also features a DVD with speeches by Bishop Desmond Tutu, and the United States President, Mr Barrack Obama. It was opened by the scholar, author and activist, Professor Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane.

The educational programme encourages more learners in particular from rural, farm and townships to write more letters not only to Mandela, but to their heroes and role models. The exhibition invites children to think of someone who has made a difference in their lives, their community or the country, and write these letters to honour and thank them. The education programme will run from March to July 2011.

These future leaders will emulate others globally, from as far as Australia, Canada and Cameroon who were encouraged by the resilience and the stance of the two leaders.

The letters will be posted to the Nelson Mandela Museum as stated in one of the exhibition panels.

23 February 2011

Dear Mr Mandela ...

By: Zongezile Matshoba

If you were to write to Nelson Mandela what would you tell him? Would you wish him well, or a happy birth day, or thank him for making a huge difference in South Africa? Sometime ago children all over the world wrote to him and the other prominent struggle heroine and human rights activist, Rosa Parks in the United States of America. The Dear Mr Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks: Children’s Letters, Global Lessons Exhibition, to be officially opened on 24 February 2011 at Albany History Museum, is precisely about what those children said to their heroes in these two countries. The exhibition is a collaboration of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha, and the Michigan State University Museum in the US. It will be officially opened by another civil rights activist, academic and author, Professor Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane. Khwezi Mpumlwana, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Museum, will give a brief background about the exhibition.

One such letter is from Thabang Mofokeng in South Africa who wrote, “Mr Mandela, we all want to get educated. Why do political parties fight for nothing? I get cross when I see people burning homes and schools and people getting killed”.

Nancy Chen from Ontorio in Canada asked Rosa Parks: “There is no much racism going on in my society. Is the US much the same?”

It is reported in the Nelson Mandela Museum website that Mandela, who shared many values and goals similar to those of Parks, met Parks in Detroit, Michigan, when he toured the United States soon after his release from prison. The exhibition highlights their devotion to freedom, democracy and emancipation, and draws greater public understanding of the parallels in the struggles for equality and justice in the United States and South Africa through the letters of children.

The exhibition will surely inspire the young and old Grahamstonians and visitors, and motivate them to think deeply about South Africa’s former State President Nelson Mandela in particular. Jessica Williams from California for example was moved by Mandela’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, and said: “This award represents the recognition and appreciation of the people everywhere for all that you have accomplished. For me, it is reward enough that your efforts have paved the way for a democratic South Africa”.

An educational programme will follow the opening, encouraging more learners to write more letters not only to Mandela, but to their heroes and role models. The exhibition invites children to think of someone who has made a difference in their lives, their community or the country, and write these letters to honour and thank them.

The letters will be posted to the Nelson Mandela Museum. The South African Post Office has been asked to kindly donate stamps and other educational material. Grahamstown FM Community Radio is going to read on air some of these letters on Thursdays between 5 and 6pm. Upstart, a community youth newspaper by Grahamstown youth will also participate.

These future leaders will emulate others globally, from as far as Australia, Canada and Cameroon who were encouraged by the resilience and the stance of the two leaders. Some wanted to know what made them chose that route, and what it meant to them and their families to spend some time in prison.

The exhibition will be opened until after the National Arts Festival.

22 February 2011

Dear Mr Mandela , Dear Mrs Parks ...

The Board of Trustees of Albany Museum in close cooperation with the Council of Nelson Mandela Museum invites you to the opening of an exhibition.

Title: Dear Mr Mandela , Dear Mrs Parks...

Venue: Albany History Museum , Somerset Street Grahamstown

Date : 24 February 2011

Time : 17h00

Guest Speaker: Prof Bernard Magubane

To attend Call 046 6222 312 or email albanymuseum@ru.ac.za

11 February 2011

Museum participates in Makana Edutourism PROJECT Launch

On the 5th and 6th February 2011 two staff members from Albany Museum, Nozipho Madinda and Boniswa Tana attended a Makana Edutourism launch held at 1820 Settlers National Monument at Grahamstown. The exhibitions were represented by Albany Museum, Nelm, Saiab, Rhodes University and other business places. Ms Nozipho Madinda had a talk with the visitors about the history of the Albany Museum and its departments and Ms Boniswa Tana explained the early age stone tool.

The Makana Municipal Manager Ms Ntombi Baart welcomed everybody. The director of Makana Edutourism Project, Margeret Wolff defined the project as ‘a project of the Grahamstown Foundation partnering with the Makana Local Municipality and Makana Tourism’. The project is founded with funds from the European Union through the Thina Sinako Programme. She also said that Makana Edutourism promotes travel for formal and informal long learning in unique natural, historical and multicultural environment in the Makana Region of the Eastern Cape.

Why Makana Edutourism in Grahamstown? It is because the artist performs here. Many schools come to Grahamstown for various Grahamstown Foundation activities, in particular. Science and National Arts Festivals are at Makana and participants at Makana have unique activities. She acknowledge that Rhodes University as an associate to this project. Amaphiko township dancers entertained the audience and with outstanding performances. She thanked the staff and the visitors.

The launch was a wonderful event and with lots learning opportunities.

01 February 2011

Museum investing in your past relatives

By: Zongezile Matshoba

For William Jervois, genealogy is a passion, commitment and dedication. Jervois is a resident genealogist at Albany Museum. He deals with requests from all over the world, particularly in Europe, Australia and the United States of America. Although he specializes on the 1820 Settlers, he manages to give assistance and further referrals to those requests beyond his scope.

During the Rhodes University’s Cory Library commemoration of Sir George Cory’s interview with King Regent Manxiwa 101 years ago, Jervois took time off to share his expertise.

His job is quite fascinating, yet he is charging close to nothing as compare to professional genealogists. Also, he is willing to share his skills with anyone interested in the field. He is also concerned that there is nothing similar being done for Africans, AmaXhosa example, to complement what he is doing. His main challenge is that he is not familiar with the language.

For a start, Jervois receives an e-mail or a telephone call regarding an enquiry. Full details are very important for him to proceed. This must include full names of both parents being researched, age, date of marriage, profession or trade they were involved in, and place of birth.

Fully armed with precise details, Jervois sits in front of his computer and starts his frantic search. He checks the church registers of baptisms, cemetery tombstones register, business books, newspaper death and marriage notices, and most importantly, the International Genealogy Institute Individual Records freely available on the web.

Jervois normally takes a day to complete an e-mail enquiry once he has most information at his disposal. Anyone interested in his service should contact him at Albany History Museum in Somerset Street. Alternative, please call him at 046 – 622 2312, or e-mail: albanymuseum@ru.ac.za

For further reading, please visit:
Cory Library commemoration
Being a genealogist