The house of reclusive artist Helen Martins, graves of 20th century political activists, the hilltop kingdom of Mapungubwe, fossil sites associated with human evolution and the emergence of modern man, Robben Island and historic wine farms. These are but some of the nearly seventy sites that mirror South Africa as a nation. The sites constitute the apex of the national estate – heritage sites that are so exceptional that they are of special national significance.
South Africa General
The local controversy over the development of the public space at Maiden's Cove on the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town has been brought to national attention in an article by the distinguished retired Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs. “The Secret Weapon of Maiden's Cove for All” (Daily Maverick, 4 September 2018), hones in on some of the most complex and persistent challenges in the heritage sector: How to define heritage? Whose heritage is it?
In May 2018 Robyn Keet, our picture library manager at the time, teamed up with the PhotoZA Gallery in Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg, to create an exhibition of photography that covered the apartheid period in South Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s. DocuFest Africa: The Exhibition, showcased at times rare and unusual images of life in South Africa taken by leading photographers at the height of apartheid. Curated by Reney Warrington, the Exhibition was drawn from collections represented by Africa Media Online.
Archaeology, and especially maritime archaeology, has always been viewed as a male-dominated field in the past. Here at the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), however, we know that there are many women who have specialised in archaeology - in fact, the women in SAHRA’s Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) unit outnumber the men, and this has been the case for the past four years. It is important to highlight the important role of women within the heritage sector and maritime archaeology.
Recently the author was in Port Elizabeth searching for photographic material at book dealers, used goods and antique shops in town. At one of these stores he posed his standard question to a dealer: “Do you have any old photo-stories”? With the dealer not understanding the question, the author then explained what they were. To which the dealer responded: “Oh, you are referring to Café Bibles!”.
This article reflects on the influence of South African ethno-photographs on the picture postcard industry together with a reflection on their individual histories.
Most picture postcards at the turn of the 19th century had a strong photographic theme where publishers of the picture postcard relied on the original photograph for commercial purposes.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), London, has a monthly magazine entitled the “E & T” magazine, which has a regular column, written by Justin Pollard called the “Eccentric Engineer”. It is factual, informative and above all witty. Pollard is not an engineer but a historian with an inkling for science and technology. In his column he brings personalities that were little known or have been forgotten, along with their inventions back to life.
The aim of the annual endangered heritage campaign run by the Heritage Monitoring Project is to raise awareness of South Africa’s most at risk sites. While the call for nominations for the 2018 campaign is issued this week (click here to view), we asked site champions and community activists for updates on previously nominated sites. We also analysed comments posted by community members to site threads on the Heritage Portal.
If I undertook a street survey and asked passers-by how much they weighed or how tall they were, the answers I would get back would be dependent on what system of weight and measures a person was brought up on and was familiar with. Grandparents would most likely answer in imperial units (pounds, feet & inches), and their grandchildren would reply in metric units (kilograms and metres), the reason for this is that South Africa converted to the metric system in the early 1970’s.
On 25 May 1978, the SA Navy hydrographic survey vessel, the SAS PROTEA under command of Capt C.J.H. Wagenfeld rescued twenty-six crew members from the Japanese crab fishing boat, the Kaiyo Maru No 1, which foundered off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Shortly thereafter, PROTEA was involved in another mercy mission to evacuate a heart attack victim from the tanker Texaco Sweden off the Namibian coast. SAS PROTEA was justly rewarded that year with the award of the SA Navy Sword of Peace for humanitarian efforts.
A modern photographic phenomenon that has emerged is “found photographs” – these include everyday snapshot photographs taken by others years ago, but have subsequently been discarded. These discarded photographs can today be bought up cheaply by photographic curators at car boot sales, charity organisations, fairs or auctions (online auctions included). These photographs are typically found in old photo albums, boxes with photo-odds or photo sleeves holding old prints.
At 05:30 on the morning of 11 November 1918, in a railway coach standing at a remote railway siding in the heart of the forest of Compiègne, Germany signed the Armistice Agreement that brought the war to an end.
Soon after, telegraph wires were humming with the message: “Hostilities will cease at 11.00 today November 11. Troops will stand fast on the line reached at that hour...”.
For a greater part of the 19th century, abundant and large herds of game were common in the interior of South Africa, resulting in it becoming a “sportsman’s” paradise
Robert Crawley, the 7th Earl of Grantham (a British peer) is a fictional character in the popular television period drama, “Downton Abbey”, set one hundred years ago. His family seat is Downton Abbey, Yorkshire, where he lives with his wife Cora, the Countess Grantham and their three daughters, the Ladies Mary, Edith and Sybil. He, being one of the landed gentry, generates his major income from tenant farmers farming on his Estate which he inherited from his father the 6th Earl.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie delves into the powerful story of struggle stalwart Albertina Sisulu. The piece was originally published on 27 December 2008 on the City of Joburg's website. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Albertina Sisulu, or MaSisulu, the anti-apartheid stalwart, midwife, beloved member of the ANC, and devoted wife of the late Walter, has spent most of her life in Johannesburg.
I wrote about the Johannesburg Lithograph (circa 1937) below by Charles Ernest Peers in a recent article on The Heritage Portal - click here to view. Tracking down Peers’ presence in Johannesburg at this time led me in search of Peers, the artist. Peers was a notable and prolific artist in his lifetime. He is mentioned in the Esme Berman (1993) and has a biographical listing in Grania Ogilvie (1988).
When Sobukwe left Healdtown Mission Institute for the next stage of his education, he found that most of the country’s universities were closed to blacks. Only the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand gave limited access to black students. The premier institute for blacks was near Alice – the South African Native College at Fort Hare.
In the article below, well-known writer Lucille Davie unpacks some of the complexity behind the life and personality of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The piece was written on 23 August 2013 for the Media Club South Africa website shortly after the publication of Madikizela-Mandela's book 491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
By the end of March 2018 the 14-member Africa Media Online team resident in Alice, Eastern Cape and working in the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS) at the University of Fort Hare, had completed the digital capture of all the material assigned to them in the current phases of the ANC Archives digitisation project.
Heritage encompasses all that we experience in everyday life. It is far more fluid in how it is experienced by society than what we perceive it to be. It is where ideas of individual identity and the role of nation states connect. It is who we are as individuals and how we relate to one another in society.