26 April 2011

Centre for Post Natural History

The Center for PostNatural History is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge relating to the complex interplay between culture, nature and biotechnology. The PostNatural refers to living organisms that have been altered through processes such as selective breeding or genetic engineering. The mission of the Center for PostNatural History is to acquire, interpret and provide access to a collection of living, preserved and documented organisms of postnatural origin.

The Center for PostNatural History addresses this goal through three primary initiatives:

The maintenance of a unique catalog of living, preserved and documented specimens of postnatural origin.

The production of traveling exhibitions that address the PostNatural through thematic and regional perspectives.

The establishment of a permanent exhibition and research facility for PostNatural studies.
Source: www.postnatural.org

16 April 2011

Robben Island Museum empowers future leaders

By: Zongezile Matshoba

It is with great interest to note that Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum is a product of the Robben Island Museum (RIM) which started Isivivane Spring School in 1998, catering both for learners and postgraduates from SADC. He went on to establish the Lwandle Museum in the Western Cape, worked in several government departments, before returning to the museum sector to lead Albany Museum.

The Spring School programme will from this year onwards be extended beyond Albany Museum and cater for learners throughout Eastern Cape museums. Only Amathole Museum in King William’s Town, and the Fort Beaufort Museum, both from the Amathole District Municipality headed the call so far.

The three museums are now tasked with selecting four learners before the 30 June 2011. The learners must be from a disadvantaged background, especially the farm and rural areas, be between 16 and years old, and be in grade 9 to 11.

The learners must also know and be willing to learn more about the history and heritage of the Eastern Cape, and commit to share the RIM’s experience with other learners and communities after the Spring School.

Despite severe lack of funds, RIM still hopes to cover accommodation and meals expenses. The museums have been urged to raise funds for transport to and fro Robben Island.

From 2011, RIM will also be starting the Youth Leader Academy, a higher programme encompassing the 2010 Spring School group. The aim is to enable and instil leadership qualities. The learners also have to know and appreciate that Robben Island is a world heritage site as a result of the history of the country that needs to be preserved.

The good news of taking Eastern Cape museums and heritage sites on board were revealed by RIM’s Nomatshayina Noah, the Public Programmes Unit Manager, and Luvuyo Ndzuzo, the Outreach Officer, in a nationwide campaign which saw the two also visiting the rest of the provinces in the country.

Further reading:
Robben Island Museum Spring School Updates

Museum conquers Grahamstown airwaves

Young Grahamstonians off to Robben Island

Reliving Robben Island Experience

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Sibabalwe Quma of Victoria Girls High School, and Billy Jokani from Nombulelo High, two of the four learners representing Albany Museum from the Makana Municipality, and the first ever group to represent the Eastern Cape in the Robben Island Museum Isivivana Spring School, relived their 2010 experience.

Luvuyo Ndzuzo, the Outreach Officer, and Nomatshayina Noah, the Public Programmes Unit Manager, both visited Albany Museum to meet these learners among other things. They wanted to find out the learners’ experience of Robben Island, how did it impact on their lives, and what have these learners done thereafter.

The 2010 theme was "Africa Unite: Fight xenophobia". Learners came from the nine (9) provinces of South Africa, and other SADC states such as Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Quma confessed that she knew about xenophobia, but remained ignorant until it affected her. Her Malawian friend was nearly refused entry at a school where Quma’s mother was a teacher. Some learners also found it very difficult to accept the Malawian because of language and cultural differences.

Jokani had a similar but sad experience about xenophobia. A Pakistani was shot dead in his Joza area, in Grahamstown.

Quma and Jokani took radio and drama electives respectively. Their meeting with other Africans from as far as Burundi opened their eyes. They shared their different viewpoints.

For the two, Robben Island did not look like the kind of prison they had in mind as it has been renovated. But, for Quma “imagining and reliving the whole moment of being a prisoner” while in Nelson Mandela small prison cell was unbearable.

Back home, Quma and Jokani have been sharing their acquired knowledge with their schools and others such as the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), a private school which has some foreign teachers and learners. They were assisted by Nozipho Madinda, Albany Museum’s Head of Mobile Service who accompanied them to the Spring School.

They further hope to air their impressive audio recording, anchored by Quma, and summarising the Spring School activities, at both the Grahamstown Community Radio and the Rhodes Music Radio.

The 2010 Spring School group is heading back for Robben Island this year to kick-start a new programme, the Youth Leader Academy.

Further reading:
Robben Island Museum Spring School Updates

Museum conquers Grahamstown airwaves

Young Grahamstonians off to Robben Island

15 April 2011

White sangoma now travels the world

15 April 2011
David Macgregor

When a white Rhodes University psychology student graduated with honours and told friends and family he was ready to train as a sangoma, many thought he had lost his mind.
“Some people just could not understand it when I told them I had been called to become a sangoma, John Locksley said.
Fourteen years later – including a 10-year township apprenticeship with well-known Grahamstown sangoma MamNgwevu – Locksley is fast gaining a reputation around the world as an African shaman or medicine man.
Initiated Ucingolwendaba – “the messenger or connector between people and cultures” – by MamNgwevu, the 38-year-old Locksley now juggles his time between the UK, Europe, the US and his City of Saints home.
Based in Oxfordshire, Locksley now travels the world holding ubuntu workshops to help people “to honour their own ancestors and to connect with ancestral wisdom and guidance through nature and the dream world”.
But he makes sure he takes four months’ “retreat time” every year so he can return to Grahamstown and work as a traditional sangoma.
While in South Africa, he spends his time collecting and studying traditional plant medicines, throwing bones and interpreting the dreams from uThixo (Great Spirit) and iIzinyaya (ancestors).
Treating everything from depression to insomnia, nervous and anxiety disorders, “old family hurt and ancestral blocks”, Locksley “uses sacred ceremony, rituals with herbs, and Xhosa songs and trance rhythms to encourage a profound remem bering … an honouring of the human spirit”.
Although he is described as an “ancestrally trained and initiated Xhosa sangoma” on his African Shaman website, it took Ucingolwendaba years to respond to his “calling” – which happened when he was still an 18-year-old apartheid army conscript.
Locksley was working as a medic, treating black and white amputees from the Angolan war in 1990, when he was first called to be a sangoma.
“I used to greet the guys every morning and ask if they had any good dreams … the black guys never answered me.”
That all changed one day when a Zulu special forces sergeant – who lost both legs above the knee – warned him off.
“He said: ‘Private, don’t ask if I had good dreams … when I dream the ancestors tell me who is going to live and who is going to die in my platoon. In my culture dreams are sacred’.”
Locksley later had his own “hyper-real, lucid dream” about his apprenticeship to an ancient sangoma– who told him he would first have to experience “real suffering” before he could realise his dreams.

SOURCE: Daily Dispatch , 15 April 2011

14 April 2011

Stationery galore

By: Zongezile Matshoba

The South African Post Office brought smile to the staff of Albany Museum, in particular the Education and Mobile Museum Service Departments when it donated the much needed stationery for the Dear Mr Mandela…Dear Mrs Parks: Children’s Letters, Global Lessons educational programme. The exhibition is a collaboration of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha, Eastern Cape, and the Michigan State University in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Welcoming the donation from left to right are Bongani Mgijima (Manager), Nozipho Madinda (Mobile Museum Service), Cathy Lambley (Education) and Thabang Tshobeni (Exhibitions).

This follows the 600 stamps donated earlier for the posting of the letters.

The stationery consisted of several items such as: envelopes, pencils, Sharpeners, pens, rulers, crayons, art cases and A4/80/500 sheets reams.

Enthusiasm has already engulfed learners to as far as farm schools. Sinovuyo Loteni, 12, of Fort Brown Farm School and living at Kwandwe Game Reserve wrote to Former State President Nelson Mandela saying:

Thank you for give us a good education, and give us things for school Still give us food [sic].

Both Lambley and Madinda could not contain their excitement, given the financial constraints that museums experience as non-profit organizations.

Selected letters will be posted very soon.

11 April 2011

Herbarium intern

The Selmar Schonland Herbarium staff are pleased to announce that Mr Tlou Moholwa has been appointed by Rhodes University Botany Department as an NRF intern to the herbarium.

The post is for12 months ending in March 2012 so Tlou will soon become a familiar face in the Museum. He will be assisting with daily herbarium functions such as filing and mounting but his main focus will be assisting with the work of Dr Ralph Clark. Dr Clark has collected 10 000 specimens towards his PhD in the last few years and these specimens need to be processed for incorporation into the herbarium. Tlou will focus on generating specimen labels for each of the specimens using the herbarium database.

Tlou is from Polokwane in Limpopo Province and has a BSc degree in Botany and Microbiology from the University of Limpopo. As you will see when you meet him he is a keen body builder and soccer player.

Welcome Tlou!

04 April 2011


To get clues to the end - Permian Extinction please click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG8XyesAu74