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noticeThe following articles were originally published in the Amathole Museum's newsletter, Imvubu. Strict adherence to copyright refers. Full reference needs to be made to any of the text in these articles.

A Forgotten Xhosa Chief

© Hirst, M. 2007 Imvubu 19: 1, 6.

The published genealogical tables of chiefs are an apparently indispensable historical source for most students of the chieftainship among the Xhosa-speaking people. So important are genealogies deemed to be that, nowadays, it is even fashionable for historians to publish relevant versions in their books. To what extent such genealogies actually reflect fact or simply what can be remembered of history is, of course, a moot point. If indeed it is more a question of what can be remembered, then already our research materials are permeated with ideological issues pertinent to the inheritance of the chieftainship, rather than the actual historical details of its inheritance. An instructive example comes to hand in the little known biography of a forgotten minor Xhosa chief.     

Read more: A Forgotten Xhosa Chief

A Tale of Three Maggies

© Hirst, M. 2007 Imvubu 19: 1, 4-5. 

Elijah Makiwane was born in 1850 at Sheshegu, Victoria East. His parents became Christians after his birth. He attended school at Ncerha under the Wesleyan teacher, Joseph Mjila, and then went to study at Healdtown.  According to Stewart, when he entered Lovedale in August 1865, he was deficient in even the most elementary subjects, but made rapid progress in his studies. He proceeded regularly through all the classes until he became one of the first students of theology and qualified for the ministry of the Free Church.

Read more: A Tale of Three Maggies

90 Years On: The Sinking of the SS Mendi

 © Victor, S. 2007 Imvubu 19:1, 1, 7.

Cordeaux and Farrow's 1921 architectural drawing of King William's Town's memorial to the Great War (1914-18) is part of the Amathole Museum's photographic collection. Included on the war memorial plaque are the names of eight men from King William's Town who died exactly ninety years ago during one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century to occur in British waters resulting in the accidental sinking of the troopship, SS Mendi. The names of the men are Robert Madosi, James P. Bambili, George Nini, John Clout, Durwood/ward, Squire Nodolo, Style Tetani and Kleinbooi Petela. The memorial was erected with funds raised by public subscription. 

Read more: 90 Years On: The Sinking of the SS Mendi

Andries Botha and his descendants

 © Victor, S. 2010 Imvubu 19: 2, 4-5.  

There is a common misconception that land dispossession among coloured people mostly occurred in the post-1950 period as a result of the Group Areas Act, District Six being a well-known example. Yet the genealogy of Andries Botha, a well-known Kat River resident and alleged 1850 rebel, and his descendants tell quite a different story.

Read more: Andries Botha and his descendants

A Newly Married Xhosa Woman

 © Rumbu, S. 2007 Imvubu 19:2, 3.

The photograph depicts the style of headdress worn by a wife until she has borne her first child. Before that event, she may not approach a hut directly by crossing the courtyard (inkundla), i.e. the space between the huts and the cattle-fold (ubuhlanti), but must go round and approach it from the back.

Read more: A Newly Married Xhosa Woman

Famous Hippos

 © Thibedi, L. 2007 Imvubu 19: 3, 4 - 5. 

Although Huberta became the most famous hippopotamus of its time, there were also other hippos, which were seen wandering the streets of towns.

Read more: Famous Hippos

The Killing of Huberta and its legacy

© Victor, S. Imvubu 20: 1, 4 - 5. 

Huberta, the famous wandering hippopotamus, is arguably the Amathole Museum's most famous exhibit. Research into her epic journey has resulted in five books, several journal and newspaper articles as well as countless enquiries from the public over the last 77 years. The men and their descendants who were responsible for Huberta's death have, however, not come forward with their side of the story.

Read more: The Killing of Huberta and its legacy

HHA Mdedle

 © Mpondo, M. Imvubu 20: 2, 7. (Mr. Mdledle worked at the museum from 1975 to 1985.)

Mr. H.H.A. Mdledle was born in the Tyhume valley on 17 April 1910. He passed his standard six in 1925 and trained as a teacher at Lovedale College. From 1928, he taught at various schools as an assistant-principal and as principal. 'H. H', as he was affectionately known, privately studied for his Junior Certificate and went back to Lovedale and completed his matriculation in 1948. He then taught at Lovedale High School. While at Lovedale, he became a member of the local health and social service committee. He assisted T.B. patients through obtaining family histories and applying for disability grants. He was also a supervisor of the debating society and a tennis coach.

Read more: HHA Mdedle

The Khoisan of the Eastern Cape

© Hirst, M. 2009 Imvubu: 21:1, 4-5. 

From the mountains to the coastline, the early Khoisan inhabitants utilized the diverse ecological niches and the rich resources of the wilderness including game, fish and shellfish.  The Khoisan comprised, on the one hand, small bands of nomadic hunter-foragers and on the other hand, groups of hunters who had become herders and adopted pastoralism from a source other than the Southern Nguni probably to the north of Botswana. 

Read more: The Khoisan of the Eastern Cape

The Healer's Call

© Hirst, M. 2009 Imvubu: 21:2, 7.

Among the Xhosa, the calling of the diviner (igqirha lokuvumisa) to become a healer is described in a well known myth.  It is a simple but familiar tale that recurs in some of its essential details among the Nguni in general.  Yet, by virtue of its simplicity, it is able to bear and convey a dense cultural and esoteric load.  Significantly, the majority of Xhosa diviners are female. 

Read more: The Healer's Call

Rubberhides Rugby Football Club

© Brecht. R. 2009.  Imvubu 21: 2, 4-5 & 8.

Today, the rugby players of Breidbach play for Brumbies Rugby Football Club. That was not always the case. In the past, the coloured people of King William's Town were represented in several teams, one of which was Rubberhides Rugby Football Club. Rubberhides was established in 1921 when the need for a rugby team arose in the coloured community in King William's Town and Breidbach. The necessity among Breidbach men for the establishment of such a club was further enhanced because Shamrocks Rugby Football Club, which was established in 1913, catered mostly for men from Leightonville and Schornville.

Read more: Rubberhides Rugby Football Club