Women's Month

On August 9 1956, 20,000 women staged a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act. They left petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures at prime minister J.G. Strijdom's office door. They stood silently outside his door for 30 minutes. The 'pass' was an identification document which restricted a black South African's freedom of movement under apartheid. The pass allowed black women to enter 'white' areas and had come into force under the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass laws) of 1950.


Dr Ghilraen Laue, deputy editor of Southern African Humanities and Dr Thembeka Nxele, African Invertebrates subject editor.

KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s Research Journals Climb in Global Rankings


Dr Ghilraen Laue, deputy editor of Southern African Humanities and
Dr Thembeka Nxele, African Invertebrates subject editor.


In the latest Scimago Global Journal Rankings* (for 2019), both research journals published by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum have made significant gains. Southern African Humanities, produced by the Department of Human Sciences, climbed from 56 in the world to 41 among Archaeology journals (out of 290 monitored journals). African Invertebrates, produced by the Department of Natural Sciences, is ranked 104 out of 145 Insect Science journals. Both journals have been published for over 100 years, albeit in different guises.

On the achievement of Southern African Humanities, Dr Geoff Blundell, the Head of the Department of Human Sciences, had this to say: “The climb of 15 places in the global rankings for Humanities is a major achievement when you consider that the journal has significantly outperformed its counterpart, produced by the professional association in southern Africa, which is better resourced and is more widely distributed than Humanities. It’s a testament to the hard work of the editor, Dr Gavin Whitelaw and the two deputy editors—Dr Ghilraen Laue and Dr Justine Wintjes—who are assisted by Ms Dimakatso Tlhoaele and Mr Mudzunga Munzhedzi, that the journal continues to be of exceptional academic quality and is an excellent resource for any serious scholar of southern African archaeological, historical and anthropological material. The ongoing success of the journal is also made possible by the administrative and management staff at the museum… their efficiency allows us curators and researchers to focus on academic concerns.”

On the success of African Invertebrates, Dr John Midgley, the Head of the Department of Natural Sciences and Editor in Chief of African Invertebrates, stated: “The success of African Invertebrates as an Insect Science journal is all the more remarkable when one considers that we are a general invertebrate science journal. Publishing in Africa has become more challenging, and the sustained ranking is down to the dedication of our team of Subject Editors, including KZNM researchers Dr Thembeka Nxele, Dr Kirstin Williams and Dr Igor Muratov, who ensure we maintain our scientific standards and our editorial partners, Pensoft Publishers, who help ensure the final product is of the highest quality possible.”

With the new rankings, both Southern African Humanities and African Invertebrates have also moved into the top positions in their respective fields for academic journals produced on the African continent.


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Refreshing the Victorian Period Rooms

I and G at work


Recent visitors to the Museum may have noticed real people in the Victorian period room displays supplementing the usual mannequins. A number of visitors got quite a fright! Inandi Maree from the Exhibitions Department and Dr Ghilraen Laue, Curator in the Human Sciences Department, have been refreshing the displays in these period rooms. There are multiple challenges to updating the exhibits in these rooms. In the Apothecary Shop, for example, there are original medicine bottles, many of which are over 100 years old. Some of these bottles still have their original contents, including arsenic and other poisons! For safety, face masks are worn while in this room when bottles and cabinets are opened. In the coming weeks similar work will be done in the Blacksmith and Wainwright displays.

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The latest volume of SA Humanities interdisciplinary journal, produced by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, is now available online. Access to the online and printed editions is via subscription or the electronic version can be accessed through one of several global repositories. These repositories are SABINET, EBSCO and PROQUEST.

Volume 32 includes nine peer-reviewed papers covering diverse topics including Mapungubwe, KwaZulu-Natal Iron Age burials, Thomas Baines, a Later Stone Age site in Lesotho, Paul-Lenert Breutz, Wilton scrapers, exhibiting apartheid, lions in San beliefs, and ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in Zimbabwe.

The printed version of the journal will be available at the end of the first quarter of 2020. Southern African Humanities is rated as being in the top quartile of global archaeology journals by Scimago and is the highest-ranked archaeology journal produced in southern Africa.


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In December 2019, Dr Geoff Blundell and Troy Meyers visited Cape Town to undertake research in the National Archives Repository on the Khoisan peoples of the Nomansland regionNomansland was the name given to the area that fell between the Cape and Natal colonies and beyond the control of the large Cape Nguni polities along the south-eastern seaboard of South Africa. Of course, the area was not really a No-Man’s-land but was the home territory of a number of Khoisan peoples. After 1863, when the Griqua made their epic trek from the interior of the country through the Drakensberg and eventually settled in the region of present-day Kokstad, the area was renamed East Griqualand. The work undertaken by Dr Blundell and Troy Meyers is part of an ongoing collaborative project that looks at the histories of Khoisan peoples in the Nomansland area.

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