Sunday 14 April 2024

Messy Matters Book Launch written by Ayanda Simelane

ARROWSA management and alumni were part of Dr Mary Lange of Mel. Arts. Culture. Heritage's book launch of Messy Matters on 14 March 2024 at Bergtheil Museum. Ms Mohau Qalaza of Durban Local History Museums was the Programme Director. Library Services from the Pinetown District of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education and local schools were also represented by Ms Sikosana, Ms Nzimande and Ms Sabela.
The book launch began with the acting out of extracts from the book, with Dr Lange as the narrator and ARROWSA alumni Miss Noluthando Shandu and Mr Njabulo Nxumalo as performers. They presented impressive talent and captivated the audience, which was an important feature of the book. They discussed the love of little creatures and trees and the importance of respecting nature and our interdependence on nature and each other. The book is multilingual and relates to different communities in South Africa and is an important tool for creative and performing arts teaching and learning. It is also about telling stories and what these stories teach children. The team that worked on the book reflected on their experiences of working on the book , such as the layout artists Saskia van Meeulen and, illustrator Kathlyn-Sue Allan and isiZulu translator Nomusa Mabaso. . Speeches were also made by ARROWSA Management including Bheki Dlamini who reflected on his role as educator advisor on Messy Matters. and Prof Lauren Dyll, CCMS, UKZN, who presented a positive review of Messy Matters.
Contributors to the book who could not be present sent video messages. These included from ARROWSA chairperson Luthando Ngema, editor Prof Roger Fisher and Nama and Afrikaans translator Pedro Dâusab. Over 50 books were handed over to schools.
One off framed prints of illustrations from Messy Matters book were sold to raise funds for ARROWSA alumni Noluthando Shandu and Jabu Nxumalo to go to the UK in an arts, culture and heritage exchange with Indra Collective. To order a framed print or donate towards Noluthando and Jabu's trip email
To view videos of the book launch filmed and edited by Vincent Joseph Salanji go to

The Durban Local History Museums’ Passbook Competition 2024 written by Ayanda Simelane

ARROWSA has continued to be a valuable partner of the Passbook Competition since its inception in 2013. The Competition once again invites schools from different parts of eThekwini to visit museums, take part in planned activities and stand a chance to win prizes. It is open to Grades 4 to 11, and schools that cater for Learners with Special Needs (LSEN) are also welcome.
The 2024 instalment of this competition was launched at its Educators' Workshop on 5 March 2024 at the Westville Civic Centre led by Ms Mohau Qalaza and her LHM team. The theme for the year is 'The Right to Vote Reflections 30 Years Later!' which will be integrated with the various components of the Competition, from visual arts submissions to written submissions and performing arts.
The competition links museum education andclassroom learning, focusing on history, heritage and creative arts. ARROWSA is committed to continuing this long-term partnership in 2024. The programme director at the launch was Dr Mary Lange, a long-standing member of ARROWSA management and the founder of MeL: Arts. Culture. Heritage (MeL). Ayanda Simelane, a member of the Passbook Competition Committee and ARROWSA management, also spoke at the launch. She deliberated on the education component, mainly focusing on grade-specific activities incorporating the History and Social Sciences curricula and the theme.
The visits to museums and other heritage institutions will commence on 4 April and will be open until mid-August. Auditions for the performing arts component, Abasha Bash! The finals will be held on 13 and 14 May and 13 June. During that week, visitors from Bremen, Germany will be participating in the Abasha Bash! The final phase of the Competition will be the Prize Giving Ceremony, which is due to take place on 19 September. ARROWSA plays an important role in adjudicating submissions and ARROWSA alumni, with MeL, in facilitating visits to the Palmiet Nature Reserve, which is a participating site.

Saturday 16 December 2023

 Reconciliation Day performance of Who we are!

The cast of Who we are entertained, moved and inspired a full Studio 5 Theatre at UKZN Howard College. Congratulations to all who were part of this production!

Thursday 14 December 2023

 Who we are: a community theatre musical

The Train-the-trainer project took place in 2023. It is a a collaborative project led by South Roots International and including ARROWSA,  Bechet High and Mel: arts, culture and heritage and partially funded by NLC.

                      ARROWSA–Bechet High–Sydenham team perform Who we are in Cape Town as facilitated by SRI

The project empowered communities by transferring the South Roots Int. (SRI) community theatre method, devised by Shanette Martin, to trainees within five communities–four from the Cape Flats and one from Sydenham Durban. It was with this community that ARROWSA assisted with coordination of the project.  The two trainees from Durban, who also directed the Sydenham production, were Noluthando Shandu and Monique Mukendi who are both ARROWSA Bechet alumni who trained under Mr Bheki Dlamini. Noluthando Shandu is also a South Roots Int. alumni and has assisted in the MeL: arts, culture and heritage programmes at the Bergtheil Musuem. ARROWSA facilitated the use of Bechet High for rehearsals and ARROWSA management performing arts portfolio leader Mr Dlamini facilitated between ARROWSA and Bechet High. Mary Lange of MeL: arts, culture and heritage coordinated the administrative part of the Durban hub for ARROWSA and SRI.

                               The ARROWSA—Bechet–SRI–Sydenham team rehearsing for their performance in Durban

Noluthando and Monique went to Cape Town for training with SRI and met the trainees from the other hubs. In October 2023 Monique and Noluthando led the Sydenham group to Cape Town where they performed their community theatre musical that they had devised titled 'Who we are' in a professional theatre. The trip to Cape Town was funded by parents, friends, family, SRI and Mr Bechet. SRI sponsored all the accommodation and food for the trip. Two ARROWSA alumni and SRI members, Angela Del Fava and Rachelle Mukendi joined in the Sydenham performance as it is their home town.

On the 16 December, Reconciliation Day, the Sydenham team will perform at the UKZN Studio 5 theatre. Prof Miranda Young-Jahangeer, head of ARROWSA creative arts portfolio, and professor in performing arts facilitated the use of the theatre and sponsored the technical equipment. 

Saturday 8 July 2023


LHM Abasha Bash! Festival 2023

13 June

(Text by Ayanda MaNgcobo Simelane)

Abasha Bash! is the performing arts of the Passbook Competition administered by the Durban Local History Museums. ARROWSA has been a long-standing partner of the competition and was once again represented in the 2023 installment of the competition.  The auditions took place on 16 and 17 May 2023 and the finals on 13 June 2023.

ARROWSA chair, Ms Luthando Ngema and Dr. Mary Lange (Mel) formed part of the adjudication panel. Other adjudicators were from eThekwini Living Arts, K-Cap and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.  They witnessed amazing talent delivered by 17 schools from different parts of eThekwini.

The schools produced 10 minute performances under the theme: The Year of Imbokodo, in recognition of female leadership, the struggles and the role of women in society.

Ms Mohau Qalaza of LHM and founder of the Passbook Competition and Abasha Basha! in Durban (above)

Teachers and learners from Durban area schools attend the Abasha Bash! Festival at the Westville Civic Centre

Dr Mary Lange (MeL) and Ms Luthando Ngema (ARROWSA Chairperson) adjudicate at the Abasha Bash! Festival

ARROWSA collaboration: Education and Outreach

Text by Ayanda MaNgcobo Simelane

ARROWSA is engaged in education and outreach, through its partnership with the Bergtheil Museum, it has facilitated educational tours to schools from different parts of eThekwini. The tours are based on cultural heritage, incorporating classroom learning, museum education and the use of storytelling in heritage education. 

As part of the ARROWSA programme primary School learners are led through the Bergtheil Museum by Local History Museums staff.
(above and below)

MeL team Mary Lange, Aslina Madikizela, and ARROWSA alumni Jabu Nxumalo and Noluthando Shandu collaborate with ARROWSA and Durban Local History Museums to share with Grade 5 learners through experiential learning about sources of the past - including oral stories, (above) and indigenous dancing (below).

Palmiet Nature Reserve staff, Palmiet Nature Reserve Committee, Jean Senogles collaborate with ARROWSA, Durban Local History Museums (LHM) and MeL, Mary Lange and Aslina Madikizela in the LHM Passbook Competition visits to the Palmiet Nature Reserve. There the learners are part of an interactive archaeological demonstration (above) and nature walks. Both of these emphasise the central role of women in the past.

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