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Museum activities on hold

LWANDLE – Celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum were placed on ice last week.

The milestone anniversary celebrations were set to be held at the facility last Friday (1 May). Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, management took the decision to postpone the event indefinitely.

The timing of lockdown restrictions has also impacted on the museum’s education programmes, which are usually run in partnership with local primary schools and are developed using aspects of the Caps Curriculum. They are designed for learners in Grade 4 to Grade 6, and specifically target primary schools in Lwandle, Nomzamo and Asanda Village.

One of the highlights of the museum’s history has undoubtedly been the proclamation of the museum’s Hostel 33 as a provincial heritage site in September 2018.

Museum manager Masa Soko said another highlight has been the funding the museum receives from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, which enables the hosting of youth programmes for members of the community, as well as the partnership with Michigan State University in the US.

Soko said a speech and debating competition was planned for Monday 18 May, and the museum was looking at innovative ways of proceeding with it and other programmes during the Level-4 lockdown period.

Apparently other museums in the province have already cancelled their speech and debate evenings, but the Lwandle institution hopes to find a way to run it as planned.

“We are strategising and thinking of going ahead with it,” Soko said. “We are planning on accepting videos from the participants, instead of learners having to come to the museum or representatives of the museum having to go to the schools.” She added the museum was considering enlisting a panel to judge the videos.

On plans to celebrate the facility’s 20th anniversary, Soko said it is planning to host “something big” along with an exhibition to speak about stories from the workplace. “We could not do any of that as all our service providers are closed, so we couldn’t print or create any designs.”

Since the nationwide lockdown began towards the end of March, all museum staff have been working from home, which came with its own set of challenges as some employees do not own laptops. “We are really affected, as some of our staff members’ salaries come solely from income generated at the museum, which we don’t have during the lockdown,” Soko said. “So we have had to try other means and options to secure staff incomes.”

She said the museum couldn’t complete the necessary documentation to end off the financial year, and several planning meetings had to be cancelled. Furthermore, it has already lost the income that would have been generated over the last couple of months, so plans for this and next month will not materialise.

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