13 December 2013

Temporary Pottery Exhibition

Pottery: Grahamstown's Lost Industry
New Temporary Exhibition in the History Building

The History Department of the Albany Museum has recently put up a new temporary exhibition in the Foyer of the History Building. The exhibition titled Pottery: Grahamstown's Lost Industry will be up until June 2014.

The idea for this exhibition started with a query about what had happened to Grahamstown's pottery industry, since Grahamstown and its surrounds are so rich in clay deposits.

The clay has been used by both African and European people in the area and at times has been the subject of conflict. It is this clay that sparked one of Grahamstown’s biggest industries in the past – pottery. This industry played a role in employment, economy and the reknown of our little town. Grahamstown was a place where you could learn the skill, trade and artistry of pottery.

In 1985 Grahamstown produced 55% of South Africa’s kaolin used for ceramic manufacturing and as a composite in paper.  Although the Makana Municipality is currently working on a Kaolin Initiative to revive the use and production of our clay, it accounts for only 4% of South Africa’s national production and only a few commercial potters survive today.

This exhibition seeks to give the visitor an idea of the versatility of clay, an understanding on what clay is and how pottery is made from one of our richest resources. It also includes a section on the history of the Coombs Claypits and the various uses to which Grahamstown's clay has been put in the past. The exhibition focuses on the history of Grahamstown Potteries Ltd and other companies such as Hamburger Potteries and Continental China that operated in the area. It also includes exhibits of institutions that have taught pottery in the area and projects that looked at pottery as a developmental skill for the community. 

Research: B. September, A. van Wezel, F. Way- Jones
Contributors: S. Bax, I. Benyon, S. Burke (Carinus Art Centre), K. Camagu, N. Crozier, J. James, H. 
                   Kretzmann, P.Mntonintshi, R. Prevec
 Script writing & Co-ordination: A. van Wezel
 Editing: W. Jervois, F. Way-Jones
 Design & Layout: T. Tshobeni, A. van Wezel
 Set-Up: H. Kohl, S. Makana, N. Nonxuba, B. September, A. van Wezel, F. Way Jones

06 November 2013


Albany Museum Education Officer,  Ms Nozipho Madinda organised museum careers day. It was held at Albany Museum on the 30th of October 2013. The purpose of the event was to make the students aware of museums careers and these careers are very challenging and are dominated by white people. I would like to see that change in our communities especially in Black people. They can be archaeologist, Historians, Entomologist and Botanist. Museums careers are accessible to everyone .The programme for the day was as follows: four guest speakers from Albany Museum research departments, one from National Museum English literacy and the last one was the chief education specialist at the department of Education and he was a motivational speaker.

The grade 10 and 11 learners were attended the event. They learnt about different careers of museum. The learners showed interest. The Marimba Band and Fikizolo Primary School Traditional Dance entertained the attendees. The event was a great success.

I would like to thank the guest speakers for their wonderful speeches: Dr John Midgely of Entomology department, Ms Celeste Booth of Archaeology, Mr Phumlani Cimi of Botany and Ms Fleur-Way Jones of History Departments including Mr  Zongezile Matshoba the manager of education public programmes at Nelm and  Mr Bongani Stamper the chief education specialist at the Department of education in Grahamstown. Once again I would like to thank the exhibitors: Amathole museum, Masithandane traditional group, Department of education library. The programme was a success because of National Lottery and the Department of Education was funded by National Lottery. I would like to thank them.
                                                                                       By Nozipho Madinda

04 September 2013

Nxele “the left handed” or Makhanda was a Xhosa warrior and prophet who, during the Xhosa Wars of Resistance, led an attack against the British garrison at Grahamstown in 1819. Albany Museum presents Ukuza kukaNxele, a permanent exhibitions commemorating the life and times of  this charismatic warrior. 

We examine his early life from his birth place in Gatyana, his travels with his mother to present day Uitenhage, where he came into contact with European views on religion and his acceptance and baptism into Christianity. We further follow his growth in influence amongst  amaXhosa and the royal house of Ndlabe as a respected herbalist and adviser culminating in the great Grahamstown attack in 1819, his subsequent surrender and banishment on Robben Island and later his suspicious death. 

This exhibition seeks to show a new side to Makanda so that we can appreciate him more than the lunatic - who led his followers to slaughter- that history has portrayed him as.

Against this background we also launch “Assimilate! Resist! Make a Home.” an exhibition that takes a look at the first 50 years of the city Graham's town. We look at its inhabitants during this timeframe, their interaction and roles they carved for themselves under the different circumstances they faced in this common place.
By S. Thabang Tshobeni

27 August 2013

Albany Museum and Education Department

The Albany Museum was established in 1855 and is the second oldest museums in South Africa.Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning, and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.

The Albany Museum is made up of many different departments which are staffed by renowned experts. For example we have expertise on insects, dinosaurs, plants as well as humanities. There are museum careers that are available at the museum such as palaeontologist, botanist, entomologist, historian, anthropologist and archaeologist, and taxidermist.

The education department plays a pivotal role in the museum. It offers museum lessons to schools throughout the course of the year. The Focus Weeks provide excellent programs of education, whereby the specialist present lessons for the whole week. The Education Department has projects such as Mandela Day, Winter School, Spring School and Access to the museum project that is funded by National Lottery. The Access to the museum project is a famous project to schools and to the community. We have a quantum bus that takes the learners to and from the museum.

The Education Department also provides a Maths and Science Club that is called Khanya Maths and Science Club. It was run by Ms Joyce Sewry from Rhodes Chemistry Department and Ms Nozipho Madinda the Education Officer of Albany Museum on Saturdays.


18 February 2013

Banished . . . and forgotten by all governments

By: Zongezile Matshoba

Albany Museum is bringing to Makana Municipality and the Eastern Cape the sorry state of over 150 people that were banished between 1948 and 1986. Most of these people were from rural areas, and 10 of these were women.
These are revealed in a spine-chilling photographic exhibition based on Dr Saleem Badat’s book with the same title, “The Forgotten People, Political Banishment under Apartheid”. The exhibition will open at Albany History Museum on the 21 February 2013.   
In an article on the Rhodes University website, Dr Badat, speaking to Jacaranda Media commented that his book was motivated by Helen Joseph who, in 1962, along with Amina Cachalia, Joe Morolong and others undertook a remarkable 11 000 km car journey to visit banished people across South Africa.
 “Apartheid's opponents were plucked from their families and communities and cast into the most abandoned parts of the country, there to live, perhaps to die, to suffer and starve, or to stretch out a survival by poorly paid labour, if and when they could get it,” said Dr Badat.
“Banishment was used to punish, intimidate and control political opponents, part of a strategy for suppressing opposition to state policies and maintaining apartheid rule”.
Banishment was a weapon administered to expel opponents to deep, distant and often arid and desolate places for unlimited periods, to the living hell, because of their resistance to apartheid policies.
Those banished had no court trial, were never charged nor given any chance to defend themselves because they did not break any laws. They were neither charged nor told the nature of their crimes.
Many were community leaders and elected chiefs in rural areas who questioned the apartheid government’s authoritative commands, and were seen to be insubordination.
Even the current democratic government, through its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), did not help those that had suffered this trauma that was “too unbearable to behold, to hear . . . slow torture of the soul, a living death,” according to Joseph.
Although the TRC ruled that banishment constituted ‘severe ill treatment’ and was ‘a gross violation of human rights’, it largely ignored addressing banishment in its hearings as there were only 14 recorded as having their human rights violated under apartheid.
The painful journey of the banished is unlike those that went to exile and Robben Island who were then honoured by erecting monument or memorials that got unveiled during the Human Rights Day and the Heritage Day. Dr Badat laments that there have been no special pensions and reparations. Even the scholars shy away from researching the topic.

"They remain the forgotten people of South Africa," concludes Dr Badat.
Among the guests will be Omar Badsha, CEO of the South African History Online, Prof Paul Mylam from the History Department, Dr Badat, Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, and about 40 delegates that will be attending the Durban Moment Conference at Rhodes University, organised by the History Department.