Thursday, 16 February 2023


Telling Stories of Pain and Hope:                                                 Museums in South Africa and Ireland - Book Launch

written by Ayanda Ngcobo 

(ARROWSA Local Authorities Portfolio leader and Museum Officer Bergtheil Local History Museum Durban)

The book, Telling Stories of Pain and Hope: Museums in South Africa and Ireland, was launched on 9 February 2023 at Bergtheil Museum in Westville. The book is authored by Dr Mary Lange, Independent arts, culture and heritage researcher, ARROWSA management and CCMS, UKZN Honorary Lecturer and Prof. Emeritus Ruth Teer-Tomaselli  of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and published by the University of South Africa (UNISA) Press.  

The book launch was beautifully opened by performances by a group from ARROWSA Bechet, alumni and South Roots International youth that was captured in three videos and followed by a performance by ARROWSA alumnae, Monique Mukendi. 

The MC for the evening was Mrs. Mohau Qalaza, Senior Curator of the Durban Local History Museums and based at the Bergtheil Museum. 


Dr Nthoesane, representing UNISA Press, was the first speaker and his remarks on the book were centered on how it will set the stage for generations to bring life to what is kept in museums.


Dr Lange, of ARROWSA management and CCMS,UKZN, in her talk focused on museums and storytelling and where it is used as a sources on the lifestyles, belief systems and moral and values of people in the past and forms part of experiential learning. The spiritual wellbeing of the individuals telling traumatic stories in museums and their connection to themselves, others and with the environment were some of the key points in her address. The book explores how individuals, or their descendants, who have suffered traumatic experiences, tell these stories which include conflict and forced removals and how doing this impacts their spiritual wellbeing. Some of the museums which are covered in the book include the District Six Museum in Cape Town, Ncome and Blood River sites in Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal.

Prof Emeritus Teer-Tomaselli, of CCMS, UKZN, focused on the spaces and places where traumatic events took place and why the sites need to be commemorated. She also explained how the book explores how these sites remain sustainable and what happens if storytellers move on. Her talk also discussed briefly how structures have meanings and stories to tell. Teer-Tomaselli referred to places like the Constitutional Hill describing how it urges one to imagine the spirits that are there. She also referred to the Bloody Sunday massacre that took place in Derry, Northern Ireland.

The first respondent was Dr Mlungisi Ngubane, the director of uMsunduzi and Ncome Museums. He started his discussion on issues of social cohesion and referred to the Ncome and Voortrekker reconciliation bridge. He emphasised how healing is still an ongoing process and the process of healing is needed for pain to go away. He referred to stories narrated at KwaMuhle Museum in Durban and referred to the movement against historical statues and museums that were created to address past imbalances. Ngubane stressed the need for museums to move away from being dumping sites but should rather be places that make people talk. People need to talk about what they see in museums. Overall, he emphasised how South Africa has not healed, histories like that of the 16 December 1838 war over land between amaZulu and the Voortrekkers are still painful and people have not healed. Ngubane reiterated on how the book addresses a contemporary need in museums.


The second respondent, Prof. Emeritus Donal McCracken pointed out how museums deliver a message and deal with controversial subjects. He drew on examples from Northern Ireland and South Africa to offer a discussion about stories of trauma that form part of museums. This includes civil wars in both Northern Ireland and South Africa.


The main programme ended with closing remarks from Mrs. Innocentia Swanepoel who reiterated that the book is an important contribution to museum studies.

The book launch was well attended and attracted academics, museum professionals, local media and stakeholders from arts, culture and heritage spaces.  ARROWSA management and ARROWSA Bechet learners were also represented at the launch. 

ARROWSA Management (left to right) Prof Sarah Gibbons, Bheki Dlamini, Luthando Ngema (Chairperson), Dr Mary Lange, Prof Lauren Dyll, Ayanda Ngcobo and Vincent Salanji.

Copies of the books are available through Unisa Press. See

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Despite That There is joy!

Enjoy our video of the ARROWSA, South Roots Int. production 

Despite that there is Joy!

This video is of the musical community theatre production "Despite that there is joy!"
The production is supported by the National Arts Council South Africa, ARROWSA, Bechet High, South Roots Int. (SRI) and UZKN Dept of performing arts. All songs and music included in the video are original and were devised and composed by Sue-Livia van Wyk, SRI. in collaboration with ARROWSA and creatives in the organisations and institutions mentioned above. Lighting was done by Nicole Sacco, SRI and the slide show created by Shanette Martin and operated by Angela de Fava, SRI and ARROWSA alumnus. The musicians in this production included Sue-Livia van Wyk on guitar and Njabulo Nxumalo, ARROWSA, Khwezi Mngomezulu, ARROWSA and Gracia Nicholls, SRI on drums. The film is introduced by Bheki Dlamini of ARROWSA who leads the ARROWSA Bechet group. The production also features Gracia Nicholls, SRI, and her original poem "Brilliant Black Beauty". The final version of this video was edited by Shanette Martin of South Roots Int. The video footage was by Shanette Martin of SRI and Vincent Salanji of ARROWSA. It builds on two previous ARROWSA projects - "Arts and Mental Calmness" supported by National Arts Council and "Despite that" supported by the British Council. These projects and "Despite that there is Joy!" were managed by Mary Lange of ARROWSA and coordinated by Bheki Dlamini, ARROWSA Durban, Shanette Martin, SRI, Cape Town and Alix Harris, Beyond Face, United Kingdom. The production of Despite that there is joy! is the result of a collaboration of directing and performance by ARROWSA management, ARROWSA Bechet, ARROWSA alumni and South Roots International creatives from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. A film "Despite that" was included in the production and was the result of a collaboration between creatives from ARROWSA management and alumni, Durban, South Roots Int., Cape Town and Beyond Face, United Kingdom.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Despite that there is joy! 

ARROWSA presents a musical production at UKZN Square theatre, Howard College Durban on Saturday 10th December at 2pm!

Join us at this uplifting musical including original songs and dances created by 
the ARROWSA teams with South Roots Int. (SRI) 

directed by 
Bhekithemba Dlamini 
(ARROWSA management Performing Arts)

assisted by 
Sue-Livia van Wyk (SRI musical director) 
Shanette Martin (SRI technical director) 
Gracia Nicholls (SRI performer)  
Nicole Sacco (SRI performer)
 Vincent Joseph Salanji (ARROWSA management Visual Arts) 
Sethe Ntando (UKZN Drama and Performance)
Lizwi Moyana (UKZN Drama and Performance)
Monique Mukendi (ARROWSA alumni)
Njabulo Nxumalo (ARROWSA alumni)
Nkanyezi Vilakazi (ARROWSA alumni)
Sanele Madlala (ARROWSA alumni)
Sfiso Langa (ARROWSA alumni)
Sindisiwe Precious Mkhize (ARROWSA alumni)

administrative assistance by
Luthando Ngema (ARROWSA Management Chairperson)
Mary Lange (ARROWSA Management Fundraising)
Miranda Young-Jahangeer (ARROWSA Management Creative Arts)
Lauren Dyll (ARROWSA Management Finance Executive)

supported by 
National Arts Council
UKZN Department Drama and Performance Studies


Saturday, 22 October 2022

Despite that there is joy marketing

Despite that there is joy! 
ARROWSA workshop theatre production 

In October 2022 ARROWSA youth, teenagers and ARROWSA and UKZN artists came together, led by ARROWSA Mr Bheki Dlamini, to refine and rehearse the workshop theatre production "Despite that there is Joy!"

Here they share their experience and invite you to attend their performances in December. The video is part of the skills transference of filming and editing led by ARROWSA Vincent Salanji. The project is supported by the National Arts Council South Africa.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

 Happy Heritage Day 2022!

A word from our ARROWSA chairperson Luthando Ngema:

"Happy Heritage Day! May we continue to learn from our heritage of Ubuntu. May we inherit a new heritage of resistance, so our future has less residue of painful and repressive histories."

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

ARROWSA presence at the South African Museums Association KZN Region Conference August 2022

The Local Authority representative on the ARROWSA management, Ayanda Ngcobo Simelane is the Museum Officer at Bergtheil Museum Westville, Durban Local History Museums and the Chairperson of the South African Museums Association (SAMA) KZN Region. As Chairperson of SAMA KZN, Ayanda organised the very successful SAMA KZN conference on the 24th and 25th August at the impressive Umgungundlovu Multi-Media Centre, Ulundi, KZN with a pre-conference dinner on the 23rd and tours on the 26th. The Keynote Address on 24 August was given by Dr Bongani Ndhlovu who is the SAMA National President.


The Museum Curator of Durban Local History Museums who is also a partner of ARROWSA, Mohau Qalaza, was one of the presenters on the same day and her presentation was titled "The Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Museums in Initiating and Sustaining Programming that Involve Sponsorship, Collaborations, Alliances and Partnerships in the post Lockdown era’.

On the 25th August Dr Mary Lange, of ARROWSA management and a Centre for Communication and Media in Society, UKZN Honorary Lecturer, was the guest speaker. Her presentation was based on her and Prof Teer-Tomaselli's co-authored book "Telling stories of pain and hope: Museums in South Africa and Ireland" forthcoming from UNISA Press. Her presentation focused on Museum communities, collaboration and sustainability and was well received and resulted in a lengthy debate after the presentation.


A post-conference tour on the 26th went to the homestead of King Dingane and to the grave sites of 2 Zulu Kings.

ARROWSA congratulates Ayanda on the success of the conference! 


Photos by Nhlanhla Mzobe with permission