30 March 2012


The HOD Mobile Museum Ms Nozipho Madinda and Mr Luvuyo Mayi of the Geology Department attended the Human Rights Celebrations at Port Alfred on the 21 of March 2012. Our part was to exhibit the Albany Museum artefacts.

In Albany Museum exhibition we explained the artefacts of different research departments. The HOD of the Mobile Museum showed the education booklets and the career guide of the Albany museum to the Premier Noxolo Kiviet and the MEC Xoliswa Tom. They showed interest on that and I told them those carreer booklets are in demand in schools and they are very few due to the financial constraints so as the Mobile Museum co-ordinator needs funding for that.

The purpose of the day was done by the honourable MEC Xoliswa Tom. Her speech was about the 69 people who were shot and killed at Sharpeville on the 21st of March 1960. The people fought for freedom and the freedom was not free. She told the audience the story of ex-prisoners of Robben Island and it was touchable to them.

She also encourages the educators to teach the Human Rights lessons and learners must learn. The Mobile Mobile co-ordinator would like to thank the Department of Sport Recreation Arts and Arts for the invitation.


20 March 2012

Germany meets museum blended learners

By: Zongezile Matshoba

The unexpected happens to those who wait patiently and devote their efforts to goodness. For Nolubabalo Ralo, this has come too early though, and without much sweat. At 18, her leadership role, skills, and enthusiasm in whatever she does has paved her way to be part of the selected few by the Nelson Mandela Museum to go to the International Youth Camp in Germany from the end of March to the beginning of April this year. Ralo was selected from a group that participated in the 2011 Nelson Mandela Museum’s Youth Camp in Qunu, Umthatha.

Madinda has been working tirelessly in trying to convince schools to select learners with potential, such as that of Ralo. Another programme that Madinda is leading is the Robben Island Museum Spring School that happens during spring school holidays in September.

Ralo, when interviewed on her return from the Youth Camp said that she and Gcobisa Mjele from Mary Waters High School would never forget such an opportunity, and are grateful that Albany Museum chose them. Also, on her write-up for the July 2011 issue of Upstart, a youth newspaper by the youth where she is a captain for Ntsika High School Upstart Club, she echoed the same sentiments.

“What? Bergen? Belsem? Lower Saxony? I have never heard any of those, but Germany, yes, at least,” she said, laughing with excitement. Ralo is very appreciative of the rare opportunity offered to her, and hopes to make the best of it.

The Ntsika High staff and students are very excited about the whole trip. Ralo was saying that her pictures are all over the school passages, written ‘Going to Germany!’

Nompumezo Makinana, Project Coordinator of Upstart, a youth newspaper by the youth, is very fond of Ralo’s selection.

“We are very proud that she has the opportunity to go overseas. She is outspoken and lively,” Makinana said.

She said that Upstart members are always encouraged to broaden their horizons and to think beyond their contexts. She beams with excitement that Ralo seizes every opportunity given to her and excels in executing it.

The fright of getting into a plane and going on a long trip abroad is no longer bothering Ralo. She recently took a flight to Johannesburg to attend a workshop that aimed at capacitating learners for the trip, and also encouraging them to make a joint planning regarding the presentation they will render in Germany.

In fact, she is the only one so far in her family to achieve such status. Her family could not contain her excitement.

Five learners from different provinces of South Africa have been selected for this year to interact with European learners. They will be accompanied by Bongiwe Qotoyi, the Education, Material Development and Outreach Officer at the Nelson Mandela Museum.

In her communication, Qotoyi stated that this is an annual event emanating from a cooperative agreement in areas such as trade, industry and culture signed between the government of the Eastern Cape in South Africa and the government of Lower Saxony in Germany six years ago.

That agreement also resulted in the Nelson Mandela Museum (South Africa) forming a partnership with the Anne Frank House where both institutions started exchanging young people on an annual basis in what became known as the International Youth Camp.

"This cultural exchange program helps the young people in both countries to understand each other’s history and cultures. Central to these learning activities are human rights debates," Qotoyi said.

Qotoyi will be assisted by Lwazikazi Madikiza, the Nelson Mandela Museum Camp Pioneer. Madikiza is a product of the youth camp herself, having attended her first international tour in 2008. She is currently completing her Master of Science in Environmental Biotechnology at Rhodes University.

Madikiza encourages the participants not to be worried about their background but to take full control of the opportunities that South Africa offers, and not to take them for granted.

“You will never know from which hands your pot of gold will come from … little steps become great one day … don’t despise humble beginnings …”

The next group for the 2012 Nelson Mandela Museum’s Youth Camp will start during the school break for the winter holiday starting in June.

16 March 2012


Welcoming Speech by Bongani Mgijima , Manager of the Albany Museum

Former President of SAMA , Ms Beverley Thomas,
Chairperson of SAMA EC, Ms Marita Venter,
Our distinguished guest, Prof Julie Wells,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 29th SAMA Eastern Cape Conference and Annual General Meeting.

It is not the first time that SAMA is organising a conference of this note and hopefully it not the last one in the Makana Municipality.

The year 2012 marks an important milestone in the history of Makana Municipality since this great city of saints was founded 200 years ago. It is therefore quite befitting that this conference should happen here and at this time.

I hope that you will take some of your time in between the conference to admire the charming built heritage of the city.

The year 2012 also marks the centenary of the oldest liberation movement in Africa – the African National Congress. It is also not coincidental therefore that this conference is straddling the months of February and March.

For it was in February 22 years ago that Madiba walked through the gates of Victor Vester Prison into the new South Africa as a free man. It was 52 years ago on 21 March that thousands of people laid down their lives for the achievement of the freedoms we are enjoying today.

As we are celebrating these freedoms we should not lose sight of the fact that our museums today are facing a whole range of multidimensional challenges.

I am tempted to think that in the next 20 years, when it comes to museums, three scenarios will play themselves out. To illustrate my future scenarios of what may happen to museums in 20 years time please allow me to use birds linked to museums as examples.

The first one I refer to as the dodo bird scenario. The dodo bird became extinct many years ago and its extinction is attributed to human activity.

The East London Museum is believed to keep the only surviving egg of a dodo bird. Under this scenario museums will cease to exist or they will become extinct the same way as the dodo bird. The current funding of museums is pointing to that direction.

The second scenario is that museums will go the way of the phoenix bird. The phoenix bird is a mythical bird that is reputed to live for many years after which it burns and on its ashes a new bird is reborn.

The phoenix is also the logo used by the Albany Museum. Under this scenario museums as we know them will collapse and on their ruins a new form of museums will emerge. This we are seeing in the new form of exhibitions which are beginning to challenge current museum practices in a very reflexive manner.

My third and last scenario is that of an eagle bird. According to Wikipedia “the eagle symbolises strength, courage, far sightedness and immortality. It is considered to be the king of the air and the messenger of highest gods”. The eagle is also the coat of arms of Egypt whose museum in Alexandria is considered to be the first inthe world. Under this scenario museums will thrive and will be well funded.

The most important thing about future scenarios ,and all predictions for that matter, is that they can become self fulfilling prophecies. Whether these predictions become true or false depends entirely on us as museum practitioners.

The actions we take today will determine whether our museums in the Eastern Cape will follow the route of the dodo ( become extinct) , whether they get resurrected in the form of a phoenix and whether they will soar above and thrive like an eagle.

With those few words, ladies and gentlemen finally allow me on behalf of the Albany Museum to wish you a fruitful and pleasant conference and a good time in Grahamstown.

And again, I hope that after the speeches you will find time to explore our town which is indeed a GREAT PLACE TO BE.

You are all welcome. Thank you.

06 March 2012

Nutritious value of free indigenous plants

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Phumlani Cimi, Albany Museum’s botanist, presented his Masters Degree paper entitled “The Role of Ethnobotany in integrating Indigenous Knowledge in the Science Education Discipline” during the 29th conference of the South African Museums Association held in Grahamstown.

Concerned about his research thesis being stuck among others at Cory Library, and only accessible to students and academics, Cimi saw the need to reach out and inform other museum practitioners. The SAMA conference became the most suitable platform.

“Grandparents traditionally were the source of identification and information, but nowadays herbarium assists with the identification because most children no longer stay with their grandparents,” Cimi told the delegates.

His research focused on the usefulness of indigenous plants as nutritious food. His research also took away the notation that museums are only concerned with research, curation and exhibitions, and are not really contributing to the development and social upliftment of the society.

“Museums are a basic necessity … and Mr Cimi’s research contributes to food security,” Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum said.

Cimi echoed Mgijima’s sentiments, saying that this has been developed further in that an electronic version of a booklet on recipes is available. There is also a plan to develop CDs that will be distributed to clinics and hospitals to help patients see the value of nutritious indigenous plants that have a medicinal value, which are able to boost immune system.

Delegates also saw the need to emphasise the indigenous naming of certain plants such as irhawu.

“This is because of the thorny nature which causes itching in this plant, for example,” Patricia Mafu, Manger of Museums in the Directorate of Museums and Heritage in the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture said.

Almost all the indigenous plants are known to grow in abundance, and are free available in the veld.

Cimi is studying for the PhD with the Nelson Mandela Metropole University.

01 March 2012

Grahamstown hosted Sama 29th Conference

By: Zongezile Matshoba

The 29th conference of the South African Museums Association (SAMA) Eastern Cape Chapter was hosted in Grahamstown on from the Tuesday until Thursday this week. Welcoming the delegates was Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum which was hosting the conference. In his welcoming address, he related 2012 and the relevance of SAMA to the African National Congress (ANC) centenary celebrations, and the February month with the 22nd anniversary release of former State President of South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela.

Mgijima went on to draw some scenarios that are facing the museums. The first scenario that he drew was that of a dodo bird which has become instinct, a clear indication that museums, if not supported, will become instinct too. The second scenario was that of a phoenix bird, a mythical bird which is also used as the Albany Museum logo. The myth is that the phoenix has the ability to rise from the ashes, and the museums need to that. The last scenario was that of an eagle bird, also used in the coat of arms of Egypt.

These scenarios were also put into perspective by Patricia Mafu, Manager of Museums in the Directorate of Museums and Heritage in the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture. Mafu counted five key areas that determine the value of museums.

Firstly, she mentioned the critical issue of funding. Museums continued to be severely underfunded. Secondly, she touched on infrastructure development which entails the maintenance of these old buildings that date as way back as 1800s. Thirdly, she talked of social cohesion, and transformation of museums was at the centre of this discussion. Fourthly, she tried to show the importance of human resource and the retention of staff, especially those with scarce skills. Lastly, she highlighted that governance is very crucial, and therefore the finalization of the repealing of the Museum Act of 2004 and the capacitating of Board of Trustees are crucial.

Both Mgijima and Mafu challenged SAMA delegates to show the importance of the association and its continued existence. Earlier, another presenter from Bayworld has challenged delegates to be museum activists and come up with solutions instead of wanting to point problems only.

He, together with Councilor Julia Wells who delivered the keynote address which centred on the Project 200 that reflects on Grahamstown's past 200 years, welcomed delegates in Makana, which is a great place to be.

Within the conference was the annual general meeting that dealt with the governance of SAMA, presentation of papers, a gala dinner, Walking Tours by Fleur Way-Jones and some excursions to the International Library of African Music and Albany Observatory Museum.