21 May 2012

Museums – a right step to acknowledge

By: Zongezile Matshoba  
Albany Museum Mobile exhibited its artefacts as part of the
official opening and International Musuem Day.
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba

Nkonkobe Museum in the Nkonkobe Municipality was opened with fanfare in the midst of the International Museum Day (IMD) last Friday. The day was filled with music, dance, and lots of acknowledgements that museums are here to stay. Museums internationally celebrated the 35th year of International Council of Museums.  

It was indeed a museum suitable for this year’s ICOM’s theme: Museums in a Changing World: New challenges, New inspirations. Councilor Ramatsebe Alfred Kganedi acknowledged that witnessing the opening of a museum right at their doorstep “is a right step in our history”.

OPEN SESAME: Mayor of Nkonkobe, Cllr Anele Ntsangani helping
Adv. Sonwabile Mangcotywa, CEO of the National Heritage Council
to cut the ribbon.
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba   

Although some seemed not to know what was happening, and that made one heritage expert to lament, "If our children today are not going to retell what transpired today, then our heritage is lost," surprisingly, that all changed by the end of the day.

Sonwabile Mangcotywa, the CEO of the National Heritage Council, delivered the keynote address. He urged museums to be relevant to the African scourge of challenges, such as diseases, poverty, and lack of water.

"Museums in Africa cannot be about artifacts as it is the case in Europe," he said.

Mangcotywa highlighted the need to brand Eastern Cape museums and heritage as the main source of income.

“New plans are needed … today’s diamonds of the Eastern Cape is our heritage. How do we mine it? How do we brand and re-brand our rich heritage, and the history of resistance?” he asked, challenging everyone, particularly museums and heritage practitioners.

In conclusion, the Mayor of Nkonkobe Municipality, Councilor Anele Ntsangani, commended his council and the municipal staff for taking such a bold step.

"But, we need to have things in this museum that affected our history, and our politics. This must be a living museum that will teach our children and parents," Ntsangani said.

16 May 2012

Makana Freedom Festival Programme

 On the 3rd of May 2012 the HOD of Mobile Museum Ms Nozipho Madinda and the Museums and Heritage officer Mr Zandisile Sakata organized Makana Freedom Festival for four schools namely Kutliso Daniels,TEM Mrwetyana, Hendrik Kanise and Riebeeck East Combined and these are all High Schools. The focus was on the Grade 10 learners, fifteen learners per school.

The purpose of this programme was two-dimensional, creating access to museums (role and importance of museums), introducing learners & educators to sites around Grahamstown of historical significance. Ms Madinda took the learners to different galleries in the Natural Science Museum and also in the Observatory Museum. Mr L Mayi gave a talk about evolution and fossils and Fleur-way Jones took learners to Contact and Conflict gallery and also in British Settler gallery. Learners were given a chance to ask questions.

Mr Otto Ntshebe (tour guide) introduced learners to sites of historical importance that are in town (yellow house, high court, town hall, monument in high street, cathedral etc) and our destination was the Egazini Monument. Mr Ntshebe informed the learners about the 1819 Battle of Graha Grahamstown and the memorial.

Learners were very eager and enthusiastic to be introduced to museum world and heritage sites of historical significance. During the tour they were taking notes and asking questions. The tour helped them immensely as some of them they were having assignments pertaining heritage sites in the Makana Municipality, especially in Grahamstown.The principal of Riebeeck East Combined School who was part of the tour said that “we made workload easier for them by introducing this programme”. Mr V. Mcuba of Kutliso Daniels agreed that this programme is worthwhile and it must not cease for the benefit of their learners and institutions.

11 May 2012

Museums in a Changing World

By: Zongezile Matshoba

All roads lead to Alice for the 2012 International Museum Day (IMD). Albany Museum continues to reach out and helping other disadvantaged areas to establish and improve their own museums. The new Alice Museum has been graciously funded by the Nkonkobe Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province.

This is definitely in line with this year's theme: Museums in a Changing World -New challenges, New inspirations. This is how Albany Museum is responding to the world, regions and locals that are undergoing massive social, political, and economic changes.

The Alice Museum will be officially launched on the International Museum Day, on 18 May. Thabang Tshobeni, Albany Museum's Exhibition Officer, has skillfully developed an exciting, ground-breaking exhibition. This looks at the history of Lovedale, Healdtown, Alice, the press and the Oromo slaves. The area is well known for its missionary schools and the university where most African leaders that include Oliver Tambo (former long-standing President of the African National Congress), Dr Kenneth Kaunda (First President of Zambia) and Nelson Mandela (first Black President of the democratic South Africa) have been groomed. It has been conceptualised by Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum. Professor Jeff Peires and Vathiswa Nhanha, both from the Cory Library, greatly helped with the rare photos and text.

It is hoped that the museum will encourage the heritage and tourism of the Nkonkobe Municipality, resulting in more tourists, researchers, and academics visiting the area and spending more time. It will also contribute to the education of the area, in particular its history.