20 February 2012

Museum to record local history

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Albany Museum, in association with the local Makana Municipality, will record histories of the local people, in particular the previously disadvantaged in Grahamstown East, better known as eRhini. This project, to be known as Busy Bees, was initiated by the local municipality as part Project 200. Project 200 aims to encourage Makana community to reflect and imagine on how great to be in Makana.

Speaking on a recorded video played during festive lauch of Project 200 opposite the City hall, Daily Dispatch quoted Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum saying that the Busy Bees would visit once marginalised residents who felt left out during the writing of Grahamstown’s history, to collect and compile their oral versions of local history.

The Busy Bees project aims to recruit 2 to 4 unemployed graduates from the Makana area and train them in the processes of history collection and application. They will be based at Albany Museum where their training in various skills, mentoring and monitoring will take place. Once trained the four graduates will go out to communities and guide them on how to collect and make good use of their own histories.

The Busy Bees will also work closely with Mobile Museum the to ensure that the project is linked to the school curriculum and student assignments. The collected information will also be blogged with the view that it will be used as an information resource for learners and all community members.

The name Busy Bees is symbolic in many ways:



  • Bees collect various ingredients from plants and other things and turn this into honey. This is how history is written. Historians use very diverse sources of information to weave a story of the past together.


  • Xhosa oral traditions claim that Makana could command bees to attack the British at the time of the early frontier wars.


  • Grahamstown is also known to commercially produce iqhilika from honey. This initiative led by Dr Garth Cambray has created many local jobs as communities are encouraged to keep beehives which in turn are used to produce the iqhilika, a unique African mead.

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