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 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