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Archiving plan for Alex Museum to safeguard history

ALEXANDRA – It is critical that the archiving project is set in motion soon so you don’t lose valuable information, says Cruywagen.

The Alexandra Museum may soon institute an archiving plan that will enable it to document book donations and other historical artefacts pertaining to the township’s history.

This follows a meeting between the museum staff and senior officials of the Library Services of the Gauteng Department of Education in Pretoria to assist the museum in establishing the archiving system at its 7th Avenue premises.

Alex historian Thabo Mopasi narrates the history of the Nelson Mandela House to Gauteng Department of Education’s Library Services staff Mandla Masango, Mona Cruywagen and Janine Le Roux. Photo: Sipho Siso

The museum which has been a white elephant for many years was previously known as the Mandela Museum. It is close to the late former President Nelson Mandela’s house in Alex and was built soon after democracy in 1994 but only completed in 2015 after numerous stoppages in its construction work.

Alex historian Thabo Mopasi explains some artefacts on display at the Alex Museum to Gauteng Department of Education’s Library Services staff. Photo: Sipho Siso

It was unofficially opened in 2018 when residents forced officials to open its doors to carry out the work it was intended to do at conceptualisation, rather than allow it to stand idle and deteriorate.

Alex Museum curator and administrator Percy Ndaba; Library Services staff from the Gauteng Department of Education Janine Le Roux and Mona Cruywagen; Alex historian Thabo Mopasi; and Library Service staffer Mandla Masango pictured at the museum. Photo: Sipho Siso

At the meeting, Library Services agreed to make available some of its senior staffers of the National Library in Pretoria to work hand-in-hand with the museum for the archiving project.

Headed by deputy chief education specialist in Library Services, Mona Cruywagen, the delegation included colleagues Mandla Masango and Janine le Roux. They met with Alex historian and former curator of the museum Thabo Mopasi, who was involved in its conceptualisation and construction, and the current museum curator and administrator Percy Ndaba. Also present was Alex News editor Sipho Siso.

Gauteng Department of Education’s Library Services staff Mandla Masango and Mona Cruywagen listen attentively as Alex historian Thabo Mopasi narrates the history behind the faces on the wall. Photo: Sipho Siso

The meeting was at the instruction of Premier David Makhura following an article in Alex News in which Mopasi bemoaned the lack of an archiving plan which was derailing the donation of thousands of books from various donor organisations.

The township of Alexandra in an aerial photograph that is being displayed at the muserum. Photo: Sipho Siso

Wits University is one of these donors and would only donate books when there was a well-established archiving plan in place.

Cruywagen said the museum needed an archivist as opposed to a librarian to attend to the archiving needs.

The Alex Museum has changed names three times, from the Nelson Mandela Museum to Alex Heritage Centre. Photo: Sipho Siso

“It is critical that the archiving project is set in motion soon so you don’t lose valuable information on the history of the township and other artefacts, as indicated by Mr Mopasi were found spewed on the street,” Cruywagen said.

The Alex Museum has changed names three times, from the Nelson Mandela Museum to Alex Heritage Centre. Photo: Sipho Siso

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