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.

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