01 November 2012

Museum takes advantage of technology

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Albany Museum is looking forward at its newly developed web-based system to be rolled out at the begining of its financial year in April 2013. The electronic based reporting tool is aimed to replace the manual word based one. The system has been developed by Rhodes University Information System Honours students, known as Core Tech Solutions, led by Matt Bouffe, their Project Manager.

The project, initiated by Bongani Mgijima earlier in the year when he had discussions with Ed De La Rey, started in earnest around April. Several meetings then followed. The Museum presented the team with its business plan and annual report. Then there were other meetings, changes here and there, disagreements, unanswered questions, reluctance, sometime stubbornness, eagerness. The approach was business like, with Albany Museum maintaining its stance as client that "it is always right". The outcome of those daunting months is magic.

At the end, Albany Museum staff members were invited to three User Testing session. These were opportunities to critic the system, to point unfriendliness, and to highight errors and glitches.

Albany Museum believes that this was a bold step in the right direction. The Museum still asserts that this is the first project of its kind for the whole of Eastern Cape Museums, if not South Africa.

29 October 2012

Village aged access museum too

 Picture Story: Zongezile Matshoba

The 13 elderly people from Tshabo village near Berlin visited Albany Museum 
as part of Access-to-the-Museum project, funded by Lotto.
All of them alluded to the fact that this was their first ever visit to any museum

Nozipho Madinda, the Mobile Museum Officer
welcomed them and took them around.

The elderly even visited the behind the scenes,
visiting departments such as the Herbarium

They enjoyed viewing galleries such as Mammals Gallery
where they saw many wild animals and birds

After a long journey and interesting interactions, they sat down,
enjoying themselves and reflected on their first ever Access-to-the-Museum

25 October 2012

Healing through dialogue

by: Zongezile Matshoba


A learner from Nombulelo High telling her story.

Albany Museum, through its Busy Bees project, ventured into other new grounds when it organised a three-day workshop on community dialogue and healing. The initiative, which was part of the Access-to-the-Museum programme funded by Lotto, was a collaboration with the Institute of Justice of Justice and Reconcilliation (IJR) in Cape Town. The aim of the workshop was to encourage young learners to open up about issues affecting their lives, their families and their communities, and how to deal with those issues.

Dumisani Budaza, a team member of the Busy Bees, also linked the workshop to the Project 200 Years where communities all over Makana are encouraged to imagine and reflect the 200 years of Grahamstown.

"Imaginations must begin with you, by changing, and the whole world will also change too," said Budaza. He encouraged the learners to be agents of social change. He emphasised the importance of self-discipline, self-respect, and equality in all spheres.

"We must be reflecting on the steps we can take to fix these things. Project 200 Years means putting things together, and mending the past".

Cecyl Essau, the IJR's Senior Project Leader for Schools Oral History took them through steps of oral history and oral traditions and their benefits. The learners were able to learn about sources, their biasness, selectiveness and perspective when it comes to stories and responses.

Kenneth Lukuko, Senior Project Leader for Community Healing has been the main contact between the Busy Bees team, and IJR. His session enabled the learners to tell their own stories, and to respect stories of other people.

"Community healing is about bringing confidence, bravery, respect ...," Lukuko counted some of the things that even the Lwandle Migrant Labourers in Strand managed to show after the interventions of IJR. Their stories were initially written by others, giving their own perspectives about them.

Over 40 learners from four high schools around Grahamstown benefitted immensely from the workshop. The schools were Nombulelo High, Nathaniel Nyaluza, Seventh Day Adventist Private School and TEM Mrwetyana. All learners were presented with certificates of attendance.

19 October 2012

New breed of heritage practitioners

By: Zongezile Matshoba

CONGRATS: Luvuyo Mayi holding
his IHRMP Cerificate 
Luvuyo Mayi, renowned for his passion of fossils under the guidance of Dr Billy de Klerk, and Khululwa Gxekwa, a volunteer at Albany Museum, joined over 40 graduates who sang and danced in jubilation after completing the heritage course at Rhodes University recently.

The first ever course in Integrated Heritage Resources Management Practice is a newly formed qualification aimed at speeding the process of unearthing scarce heritage practitioners.

"This has been established to develop professional in the sector," said Professor Heila Lotz-Sistika.

It has been developed by the South African Heritage Resource Agency in conjunction with the university.

Several stakeholders involved in the successful development and implementation of the course also paid tribute to its over 91% success rate.

Xolisile Fina, Provincial Coordinator of the Construction Seta said that the calibre of these cadres show that they are "role models that will be followed by others ... trail blazers that will push boundaries ... first fruits ... the Chosen Ones".

That was further emphasised by Mbhazima Makhubele, a Deputy Director in the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), who echoed that they are "heritage practitioners on the ground who will continuously improve their knowledge ...as culture and heritage are at the centre of national agenda".

 Somadoda Fikeni also reaffirmed that the graduates, as master seeds that have been planted, must go and be ambassadors of heritage. Fikeni, the Chairperson of Sahra, was thanking everyone for making the programme a success.


28 September 2012

SAPS WOMEN’S NETWORK 2012 Heritage Talk Programme director, Honourable SAPS Members (All Protocol observed),Colleagues & general public, I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in Peace and Harmony.Ms Mankayi &Mr Ningi,it gives me pleasure to share the stage with you today ,more especially in this important event. For and on behalf of the Museum& the entire Heritage sector, it is our responsibility to serve you with dignity and pride. I’m happy that now our services are utilised locally unlike in the past where we used to get invitations of this nature from outside Grahams town. The event that you have organised here is very vital in our Heritage. How I wish it won’t be only an event of this year only. You have made a good example for all other public sector departments to learn from. Heritage is for all of us. I believe in inter-departmental collaborations since they forge useful ties and unity amongst public sector employees. Results of what you have ploughed here today may not show now but in the near future. For example :You ask any orchard farmer if he can plough fruit tree and within the same year it produces fruit, if he won’t get worried that his tree will not last him as he expects. By that I mean perseverance prevails. All of us in this hall have to take responsibility install our lost Cultural Values & norms to combat Domestic violence in Women and Children. This is a result of lack of respect in our Cultural diversity. For decades Heritage has been mis-represented and mis-interpreted.It is in our hands to somewhat help correct those wrongs.It might take time but we must give up.Eli lixesha lokuba singakhaleli ubisi oluchithekileyo,sijonge phambili.We need to make viable change& shine in our corners. One of the political struggle icon,former president Thabo Mbeki,once moved parliament in his 1996 Draft Constitution speech-“ I’m an African-decendant of Nongqawuse,etc”.Indeed he was right in standing for what he feels strong about,proud of his identity.Then again my Hero the late Lucky Dube in one of his songs THE OTHER SIDE,my favourite argues a point about being proud of who you are,it goes like this “Two guys namely Jackson and Themba appreciates less of what they have,Jackson –Jamaican slave descendant wishes he was home in Africa,His desperation to come to Africa can even make him catch any mode of transport that can bring him here,whilst lucky Themba on the other side,who hails from Soweto everyday he goes to the Airport willing to take a plane out of this place.”That a real situation even some of us ,to wish to give up what you have for something you do not know it’s pros and Cons. Imagine if one day we can be ashamed to call ourselves South Africans due to our wrong doings. Heritage as a subject is complex & a contested terrain,some others argues that it is selected.One of the shining examples would be a case of Ubuntu-Humanity which even our Govt has adopted it’s principle through Batho Pele Principles. Isixhosa sinentetho ethi xa ulinde into engasoze yenzele-bathi ulinde ukuza kukaNxele.My institution recently organised a public lecture about this African son whose whereabouts are unkwown,many of us took this general not even aware that his family still exists, We are lucky to form part of larger Grahams town community with its rich History and Heritage. We cannot entirely divorce Heritage from History, they do support each other, and for instance Heritage mostly relies on History, although History can exist on its own. For example when we commemorate Steve Biko’s death, we term it Heritage but what happened to Him is History occurrence. And the Marikana tragedy also forms part of the explanation. Before I support my argument further with examples and explanation on a PowerPoint presentation, I want to share with you my disappointment towards the appreciation and existence of my dept.Dept of Arts and Culture which has got a mandate to be Custodians of our History and Heritage, but to my surprise it is very underfunded, it is worse to what goes to Museums. You ask yourself how it will be possible for us to fulfil our mission and vision. This is what I’ll leave you with to digest. I thank you and please stay tuned for section. Guest speaker speech by :Phumeza N.Mntonintshi-Albany Museum,Ght.

26 September 2012

ROBBEN ISLAND VISIT


The Albany Museum Public Relations and Marketing officer Mr Zongezile Matshoba and Mark Manditha the education officer of Amathole Museum will be accompanying four learners to Robben Island Museum Isivivane Solwazi 2012 Spring School Nation Building Camp. The Mobile Museum will take the following learners:

1.       SISANDA JODWANA-GIRL
NATHANIEL NYALUZA HIGH SCHOOL-G11 (Grahamstown)
2.       SIYABULELA MALI –BOY
RIEBEECK EAST COMBINED SCHOOL-G11 (Riebeeck East)
3.       SINAZO MENZE-GIRL-G11
HENDRIK KANISE HIGH SCHOOL (Alicedale)
4.       MINYA YONELA - GIRL
NOMPENDULO HIGH SCHOOL (King Williamstown)
Albany Museum’s Public Relations and Marketing officer will be facilitating the print media elective. On Robben Island they will be in a very privileged position to explore the island, interact with Living Heritage Resources (ex-political prisoners) discover the history of the island and engage with peers around the theme of Spring School 2012.The theme of Spring School 2012 is to find an ex-political prisoner who was imprisoned on Robben Island however anyone who was incarcerated for political reasons is acceptable. Before the trip the learners must research the topic. They will also bring along a cultural/traditional/customary attire/costume or dress of another culture. They must be able to explain when it was worn, by whom and why is it important to them or their community.
The Spring School will begin on the 28th September  and run until the  6th October 2012. The Spring School will be attended by students from all provinces of South Africa, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Zimbabwe. The Mobile Museum co-ordinator Ms Nozipho Madinda would like to thank Robben Island Museum for this opportunity.

24 September 2012

HERITAGE DAY@ ALBANY MUSEUM



Heritage Day is commemorated on the 24th of September each year, and through commemoration of the National day, South Africans are provided with an opportunity to celebrate their cultural diversity whilst at the very some time affirming their country’s nationhood.


All government departments are expected to venture into a partnership with the Department of Sport Recreation Arts & Cultures it has been mandated by the provincial legislature to organise and ensure that the fundamental objectives of commemorating Heritage Day and other heritage related events are realized and revitalized.
Albany Museum staff has this opportunity of celebrating cultural diversity by wearing traditional clothes, singing songs and dancing (umxhentso wesintu).The Mobile Museum co-ordinator Nozipho Madinda  would like to thank the Albany Museum staff for taking part, realized and revitalized this event.



17 September 2012

Museum access gaining momentum

By: Zongezile Matshoba

ALL ON BOARD: Shaw Park Combined School learners
who could not wait for the Museum visit

The Lotto funded programme of ensuring that disadvantaged schools are bussed to the Albany Museum is gaining momentum. Twelve grade 7 farm school learners who were all but one coming for the very first time to the Museum were overwhelmed by the visit. Shaw Park Combined School is on the outskirts of Bathurst, a small town on your way to Port Alfred.  

“We first heard about the tour last Wednesday when the Museum visited the school,” said Xolelwa Ntlokwana, aged 16. They have been dreaming about the trip ever since.

Seemingly, the wait for Monday was an unbearable torture for them. Many were not really sure if it was all true, and were busy peeping through their classroom windows early this morning. There was a sigh of relief and the excitement grew when they saw the Museum bus. The chase for seats near the window began.

“We only believe the whole thing when it reached the tarred road,” added Ntlokwana.

Wow, planets! And dinosaurs!  For Sinalo Ncumisa, 12, and Msindisi Ntlokwana, 14, the two galleries were a show-stopper. The two were dumbfounded.    

All the learners agree that the trip has made a huge difference in the learning. Textbooks are limiting. These learners were at last able to make more sense of what is in the textbooks, like seeing the actual size of the many mammals that they have read about.

13 September 2012

Online video featuring Albany Natural Science Museum

An interesting video profiling the Albany Natural Science Museum has been posted online by SkyBok. This video shows the interesting Earth and Space gallery, Mammals Gallery, Birds Gallery, the Egyptian Mummy Gallery, the Invertebrates Gallery and the Museum’s Front Foyer.
SkyBok.net utilises Google Maps to display location and information on local points of interest, providing video profiles of venues to gain more insight into what they are about.
This is a must see video for all tour guides, students and visitors that need a quick glance of what is on offer at  Albany Natural Science Museum.
To watch and share the video, please visit: http://www.skybok.net/venue/108-Albany-Museum
The Albany Museum complex also boasts a History Museum which features the history of the 1820 Settlers, and that of the prominent Eastern Cape traditional leaders. There is also the Albany Observatory Museum, known for its unique Camera Obscura which visualises what goes on around Grahamstown right on the table.
These three museum building are opens to all every Monday to Friday, between 09h00 and 16h30.    
 For further queries, please e-mail:-albanymuseum@ru.ac.za  
  

06 September 2012

Access to the Museum - Lotto boost for disadvantaged schools

by: Zongezile Matshoba

Albany Museum may have lost out on its application to the national lottery distribution agency for infrastructural development, but its Mobile Museum Services is smiling all the way. Lotto  supported the application for a 13-seater mini bus, aimed to take especially disadvantaged learners to gain more access to the Museum.

 For years, the Museum has been reaching out to farm, rural and township schools, using its panel van, kindly donated by the Grahamstown Rotary Club. Nozipho Madinda, the Mobile Museum Officer, has always wanted to ensure that the disadvantaged learners also get the opportunity to experience the actual Museum over and above the lessons that they were getting from the Mobile Service.

MUSEUM ACCESS: Learners from Andrew Moyakhe Primary enjoying
the break and the lunch packs after being given a rare access to the Museum 
Picture By: Zongezile Matshoba


The wonderful opportunity, made possible by the gracious lotto contribution means that disadvantaged schools will no longer be limited to artefacts taken to their schools. Over 20 000 learners have an opportunity to be fetched from their schools, and gain a practical experience of the Museum. The funding has also ensured that these learners get lunch packs after their lessons. Museum is also busy developing learning material with information and activities that will enhance their learning.

Albany Museum has natural science, social history and a Victorian Lifestyle with a Camera Obscura buildings, and three heritage sites buildings. The three museum buildings have galleries that cover a variety of curriculum-based topics such as planets, plants, biodiversity,  history, art and culture.

September, known as the heritage month, tourism month, arbor month, and reading month, is without doubt an ideal period to kicks-tart the Access-to-the-Museum Project.     
  
 Interested schools are invited to make their booking early, by contacting Nozipho Madinda at 046 622 2312, or via her email, N.Madinda@ru.ac.za  

27 August 2012

The Impossible happened - Makhanda 'Returned'

by: Zongezile Matshoba
There is an isiXhosa saying that when you wait for a thing that will never happen, you are said to be waiting for the return of Nxele. Makhanda, also known as Nxele handed himself in and was sent to prison on Robben Island after leading a fight against the British domination in the Battle of Grahamstown in 1819. The warrior never returned as promised. He is said to have drowned off the coast of Robben Island in 1820 while trying to escape. His body was never recovered.
The Mjuza family of the AmaTshawe clan,
celebrating the return of their forefather, Makhanda
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Well, for the Mjuza family, the direct descendants of Makhanda, the reality of his return, though in spirit, was realized after 192 years. The public lecture, dubbed Ukuza kukaNxele / The Return of Makhanda last Saturday in deep rural Tshabo village 2 community hall was well received by the family, government officials, traditional leaders and the rural community of Tshabo village. The presence of the Kingdom of AmaRharhabe leader, Ah, Noloyiso!; local Chief Makinana, Ah, Zwelivuziwe!; the South African National Defense Force Army Major-General Lindile Yam;  the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, the honourable MEC Xoliswa Tom, among other dignitaries, all gave the event the much dignity it so deserve.
“This day is very significant … Blood was spilled … as our forefathers (like Makhanda) started the wars of dispossession …warriors that did not have cannons, but managed to save some of our land,” Chieftainess Nosiseko Gaika, speaking for the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, said.    
Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum 
looks on as Mobile Museum Officer, Nozipho Madinda, 
welcomes Adv. Sonwabile Mangcotywa, CEO of NHC.  
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council (NHC) which funded the event, appreciated the initiative taken by Albany Museum to put a rural village like Tshabo on the world map.
“Today Tshabo is famous worldwide,” said Mangcotywa. “State President Zuma, and United Nation’s officials need to come to Tshabo as from next year”. 
He said that this year’s public lecture, which promises to be an annual event, is just the beginning. 
 
 
Prof Julia Wells, historian and author, addressing media queries
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
 Professor Julia Wells, author of The Return of  Makhanda book and historian, delivered the  lecture. She revealed other interesting aspects  and alternative views about Makhanda, referred  to as Makana by many nationals.  Makhanda,  labeled by other writers as a warrior who misled  over 10 000 AmaXhosa into a needless, deadly  fight against the British colonial forces was in  fact a spiritual Christian, and an outstanding,  fearless freedom fighter and leader. The latter  view remained suppressed for years by the tragic, negative imagery contained in colonial and  apartheid textbook versions of history. For  Makhanda, it was about indigenous people  fighting back, and not accepting impoverishment  and degradation. Those long wars that Makhanda and many others fought had at long last been won by Nelson Mandela and others when South Africa voted for democracy in 1994. 
The long standing views of doubting Thomases, shocked and surprised, some of whom even questioned a memorial lecture being taken to a village, could have never been proven so wrong. 
Chief Makinana, "Ah Zwelivuziwe!" welcoming
Queen Zulu of Amarharhabe kingdom "Ah, Noloyiso!"
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Members of the South African Police Service brass band sang the South African national anthem, and the SANDF Buffalo City Rifles paid salute to the fallen traditional general, Makhanda.
The event was a first phase. The final phase will be an exhibition on Makhanda at the end of the year, or early next year. 

24 August 2012

Ukuza Kukanxele – The Return of Makhanda Public lecture

by: Zongezile Matshoba

Among the AmaXhosa , “Ukuza KukaNxele” refers to something that will never happen. Legend has it that Nxele one of the great heroes of the wars of dispossession promised that he would return after his arrest following the battle of Grahamstown in 1819. However this was never to be as he drowned off the coast of Robben Island in 1820 while trying to escape.

The Albany Museum will honour this great hero also known as Makhanda through a Public Lecture scheduled to take place on 25 August 2012 in Tshabho Village where his descendants still reside under the leadership of Nkosi Zwelivuziwe Makinana. Nkosi Makinana is the direct descendant of Nkosi Ndlambe whom Nxele or Makhanda was his counselor.

Many other political prisoners later were to follow Nxele, and were incarcerated on the island too. They came out to lead the democratic South Africa in all three spheres of government. These include many current and past ministers, as well as former State President Nelson Mandela and the current State President Jacob Zuma.

The Makana Municipality in Grahamstown is named after him, so is the Mkana Street where the famous singer Brenda Fassie resided in Langa , Cape Town. . In Robben Island, political prisoners used to play soccer under the banner of Makana Football Association. There is also the Makana Ferry at the Nelson Mandela Gateway that ferried ex-political prisoners as well as a Navy Frigate. This indeed shows that Makhanda’s contribution to the struggle has been of note.
    
Ukuza kukaNxele Public Lecture is part of the broader provincial and national government initiative to transform museums, and is also a contribution to the Liberation Heritage Route Initiative. The project is funded by the National Heritage Council, a statutory body responsible for heritage conservation at national level.

 The Public Lecture on Makhanda will be delivered by Professor Julia Wells, who is a Councillor of the Makana Municipality, a History Professor at Rhodes University , a Board Member of the Albany Museum  and an author of the recently launched  book, The Return of Makhanda: Exploring the Legend.

The Ukuza kukaNxele (The Return of Makhanda) Public Lecture will be held at Tshabo 2 Community Hall, near Berlin, on 25 August 2012. It will serve to mark 192 years of Nxele’s death and also as a celebration of the bravery displayed by heroes of the wars of dispossession.

.The lecture will be a public event  aimed at educating the public about the value of the past in nation building and reconciliation.

The Buffalo City Rifles  will also pay  respect to Makhanda by doing a military display together with the SA Police band.  Several other important guests including  the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders and politicians from the provincial and local municipalities have been  invited.   

The Public Lecture will be followed by an exhibition on Makhanda which is planned for next year at Albany Museum in Grahamstown.

03 August 2012

Take-A-Learner-to-Work

Take a Learner to Work 2012:
Lt to Rt: Ms F Way-Jones, Curator Emeritus,
Albany History Museum, Mawethu Qinela of Ntsika Secondary School
and Loyiso Gunguluza of Mary Waters High School
and Mr B September Assistant Curator, Albany History Museum.

This group organised the display of radios
and the information on the history of radio broadcasting
for the exhibition “Stay Tuned”.
After months of preparation and research, the day arrived and four learners were welcomed to the Albany History Museum to “finish the job” on the exhibition entitled “Stay Tuned”. The “job” was the final touches to an exhibition of the History of communication which focussed on radios and Ericsson telephones. The learners first polished the radios and telephones and put them in place in the foyer of the Albany History Museum. The rough sheets of labels and information were provided. The venue had been set up with plinths for the objects and two screens for the information sheets. The learners were divided into two groups; the two girls, Siziphiwe Dlayedwa of Ntsika Secondary School and Zolelwa Mhlope of Nombulelo High School, chose to organise the telephone section and the information on the SABC Broadcasting Station in Grahamstown. The girls were fascinated by the early Ericsson pulpit telephones which had “party lines” enabling an operatory to listen in on conversations (if he or she wanted to)! Loyiso Gunguluza of Mary Waters High School and Mawethu Quinela of Ntsika Secondary School chose the radio section and the information of the history and future of radio broadcasting. They were more interested in the valves, batteries, earths, dials, needles and speakers that went into the making of early radios. On completing the arrangement of their section the learners then had a refreshment break after which Mr Luvuyo Mayi and Ms Cathy Lambley took them on a tour round the Dinosaur and Bird Gallery, respectively.


The learners then returned to the Albany History Museum to do final touches to the exhibition layout. Ms Lambley then joined them again and they explained their layout of the exhibition entitled “Stay Tuned”. The exhibition will be presented to the Grahamstown Historical Society on 18 August and local information on the history of radios and telephones will be added.

Thanks go to Messrs B September and Mr S Mageza and Mrs P Yame-Maselana for the preparations for the exhibition. Thank also go to Mr Dudley Forsyth, a radio enthusiast from Grahamstown for inspiring the exhibition and Mr Michael Japp of “Delmore” who lent us a scrapbook belonging to his grandfather, William Japp, who was a member of the Albany Radio Society of Grahamstown which met between 1924 -7 in the Physics Department at Rhodes University.

Fleur Way-Jones

Curator Emeritus

Albany History Museum

30 July 2012

Selmar Schonland Herbarium Environmental Education Programme

Selmar Schonland Herbarium Environmental Education Programme

SECTION 2 of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) also known as Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) published 2011 by Dept of Basic Education of South Africa defines life sciences as the scientific study of living things from molecular level to their interactions with one another and their environments. This curriculum gives educators the freedom to expand concepts and to design and organise learning experiences according to their local circumstances and availability of resources. The Selmar Schonland Herbarium Environmental Education Programmes provide teaching and learning resources that are user-friendly and relevant to learners' everyday lives.


                                    

Our programmes involve learning through fun and practical hands-on activities. Learners learn to care about, appreciate and understand plants in their environment. The subjects come alive as learners apply classroom knowledge to real life.

Learners learn about the value of plants and the reasons why they need to be protected and conserved.
   
Our programmes are structured such that they respond to the curriculum needs. Our approach furthermore emphasises education for sustainability and encourages all learners to take responsibility for the environment.

We help teachers to make use of these resources. We share ideas and information to help develop skills and confidence to use these resources to make teaching more fun and relevant.
The Herbarium Education Programme offers a wide range of activities and resources for educators as well.

Phumlani Cimi is willing to assist dedicated educators who wish to develop Learning Programmes to foster environmental literacy and promote Education for Sustainability.

                       

We are grateful to DSG for their generous help with transport of learners to and from the Herbarium. .

20 July 2012

Follow Mandela's steps and make change too!


By: Zongezile Matshoba

Broken windows, bare, dusty floors and leaking roofs in farm schools did not deter those striving to make a difference, responding to the Mandela Day’s 67 Minutes call. Albany Museum, through its Mobile Service unit, and with the support of local businesses and individuals, once again brought smiles and relief as it visited four farm schools to present donations given with open heart. 
THANK YOU, MANDELA: Wilson's Party Farm School in jubilation  
as Albany Museum arrives to celebrate Mandela Day's 67 Minutes 
Unathi Magwaxaza, the Languages Subject Advisor in the Cacadu District of the Department of Education, motivated parents, teachers and learners to follow this example, and to unite and strive for change.

“Mandela is a symbol of change. The challenge today is to do our part to change the lives of others,” Magwaxaza said.

Mandela, 94, has spent 27 years in prison fighting for freedom for all, and dedicated 67 years of his life in the struggle for humanity.

Such change, no matter how little it is, does not really need money, but skills and innovation, especially from parents, Magwaxaza emphasized. She encouraged parents in particular to follow Albany Museum's example, and take initiatives. She also motivated teachers to ensure that resources like the corner libraries that Albany Museum was donating, are used effectively.

A READING NATION: Nozipho Madinda (traditional attire),
presenting corner libraries with books such as
Grahamstown Reflected,
and Ubukhosi Neenkokheli, to four farm schools.  
Albany Museum presented four corner libraries with books from the Museum and other donors. These were given to Wilson's Party, Martindale, Zintle and Manley Flats farm schools. The young learners were also given other niceties like sweets, biscuits, oranges bags and clothes.

Learners who have benefited through other efforts of Albany Museum also shared their stories, proving the possibility that even farm can attain such achievements. Lelethu Mto from Khutliso Daniel High School was fortunate to go to Robben Island Museum in September 2011 as part of the Spring School group.

Nolubabalo Ralo of Ntsika High School traveled to Germany in April this year after being selected for the International Youth Camp by the Nelson Mandela Museum, under the leadership of Lwazi Madikiza who is completing her Masters degree at Rhodes University. Albany Museum has very strong relations with these two museums, Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Museum.

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18 July 2012

Support Albany Museum’s Mandela Day

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Albany Museum will spend its 67 minutes donating four corner libraries with books to four farm schools as part of its Mandela Day celebration on 20 July 2012.

Reading still remains a huge challenge in South Africa. According to the United Nations, South Africa is rated 113 in the world, with a literacy rate of 88%, shockingly below Zimbabwe (95), Lesotho (106), and Namibia (111). This is the proportion of people aged 15 years and above who can read, write, and speak worldwide. This is despite South Africa having one of the highest rates of finincial injection and expenditure in education in the world!

Many books have been written about Nelson Mandela, the former State President of South Africa, that these children will have to read as they grow up. These include the famous Long Walk to Freedom, Conversations with Myself, Mandela: The Authorised Biography, The World That Made Mandela, Nelson Mandela: A Life in Cartoons, and In the Words of Nelson Mandela, to name just a few. To keep his legacy, according to READ Educational Trust, we have to go back to basics, by teaching the learners to learn to read!

The Museum aims to make a significant contribution in order to ensure that farm school children are not deprived of the ability to read, and write. Unlike Mandela and other political prisoners who had to apply for a permision to go the library, these children will have corner libraries at arm's length for them to read, read, and read! This may one day result in reading clubs in these farm schools, initiatives that are mostly promoted by READ and Nal'ibali.  

Join Albany Museum, and make your mark by supporting this initiative. Nozipho Madinda, the Mobile Museum Officer, will ensure that your efforts are acknowledged.  

30 June 2012

Kathy's humanity kept him strong

By: Zongezile Matshoba
Two years of hard work behind the scene ultimately paid dividends when Ahmed Kathrada, the African National Congress stalwart, graced Albany Museum on Saturday. Bongani Mgijima, the Museum Manager worked tirelessly to get the Kathy: The Man behind the Public Figure exhibition to come to Grahamstown as part of the 2012 National Arts Festival. When that failed in 2011, the efforts were revived again, and, with the help of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the National Arts Festival Office, and the South African Post Office, that became a reality. The exhibition is about Kathrada's personal life.

Kathrada, 83, affectionately known as Kathy, revealed that he got the nickname from his standard eight Afrikaans teacher in the 1940s when it was difficult for the teacher to call his name. Several other personal things that came out include his comrades and friends, such as Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned with him in Robben Island from the 1960s to the 1990s after the famous Rivonia Trial.

"I got a loaf of bread everyday, while Mandela never got it for ten years," he said.

When they were sanctioned not to get paper to write anymore, they used eight pieces of toilet papers in the mornings and evenings to share information and their thoughts.

Kathy tasted better food and other things after 18 years of imprisonment, when they were sent to Pollsmoor Prison. He only saw and touched a child after 20 years, something that he appreciated very much up to this day whenever he sees a child.

The prison did not dampen their spirit as political prisoners. They were adamant that the struggle was continuing outside, and that one day they would be freed. He jokingly said that one thing that never crossed their minds was that Mandela would come out to be the State President, and having Kathrada serving under him.

Their suffering inside was nothing as compared to the knowledge that their comrades outside were suffering more. Kathrada said that "In prison we were safe and protected. No police could come and shoot us".

Kathrada's advice is that ignorance is wrong. He gave an example of a wife of certain man that was shocked to learn that he had spent 26 years in prison. She then asked, "Was it for murder?"

The dwindling number of history students is also raising some concern since that has its own consequences. The young and old are becoming more and more ignorant of their history, are easily forgetting the past, and are unable and unwilling to talk about their past or to contribute to current debates, and social cohesion.

The exhibition is at Albany Observatory Museum (Bathurst Street), and can be viewed from 09h00 until 17h00 during the National Arts Festival. It will then move to Albany History Museum (Somerset Street) for the next three months.