Monday 13 October 2014

Archaeological Heritage Focus at Bergtheil Museum Westville
written by Sana Ebrahim (ARROWSA Media portfolio)

Exhibition opening: “Who left this behind?”
DVD launch: “River of Secret Lives”
Book launch: “Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices”

Celebrating our heritage was the focus at the opening of an archaeology exhibition and the launch of a documentary DVD and book by eThekwini Municipality’s Bergtheil Local History Museum in partnership with ARROWSA – Art, Culture and Heritage for Peace. The three-tiered launch took place on Tuesday evening, 30 September at the Bergtheil Museum, 16 Queens Avenue, Westville Durban.

The exhibition ‘Who left this behind?’ explores archaeological and cultural artefacts as evidence of layers of human habitation at the Palmiet Nature Reserve Westville and surrounds.  Keynote speaker, Mr Gavin Whitelaw, KZN museum archaeologist who is well known for his television appearances, reflected on ‘archaeology as a metaphor for life’ – where we write a past with no written records, obscured with more recent histories. “Archaeology in this sense also changes the way we think about the world… it helps you see other ways of looking at the world in our day-to-day life.”

The much-anticipated DVD, “River of Secret Lives” forms an integral part of the inaugural exhibition as it renders the Palmiet Nature Reserve archaeological site visually into the exhibit room. The documentary is narrated by renowned South African storyteller Dr Gcina Mhlophe.

Westville residents are part of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal team of authors who crafted and edited the National Heritage Council funded book, ‘Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices’ that also had its Durban launch on the same evening.

Guest speaker, Prof Keyan Tomaselli, celebrated academic and author, shared that working with their hosts in the Kalahari on grassroots comics and other participatory interventions requires that “we step into our subjectivities to connect theory with practice. Through auto-ethnography, this messy observer-observed relationship involving multi-gender, multi-age, different race and religious backgrounds has our (Kalahari) hosts respond differently, and for us in the field, research is exciting.”

Mr Jabulani Sithole of the National Heritage Council addressed the audience on Heritage and presented copies of the launched book ‘Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices’ for Durban Libraries to programme director, Mr Guy Redman (Deputy Head of Libraries and Heritage, eThekwini Municipality).

Addresses included a Welcome by Mr Sinothi Thabethe (Director, Durban Local History Museums);

and a Vote of Thanks by Ms Mary Lange (Chairperson, ARROWSA; author and exhibition researcher).

 Musical interludes were performed by learners of Ningizimu School, Montclair.

The exhibition ‘Who left this behind?’ is currently on view at the Bergtheil Museum, 16 Queens Ave, Westville, Durban.

Museum Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am – 3:30pm

For more information, contact Mohau Qalaza at 031-311 2238 / 031-266 5871, email:

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