The biennial SAMA conference was held at the Msunduzi Museum in Pietermaritzburg from 21 to 24 October, 2019. The conference topic this year was: The Future of Traditions. Five staff members from the KZNM presented papers. KZN Museum Director, Mr Luthando Maphasa, spoke on the issue of research subsidies in museums. He discussed the lack of adequate funding that potentially threatens the effectiveness of the future of museum-based research, which has led to a massive loss of expertise and deterioration of collections. In his discussion, he pointed to the consequences of this inadequate funding, which leads to a loss of expertise and the inability to comply with stipulations such as GRAP 103.
Mr Mudzunga Munzhedzi, Collections Manager of the Human Science department spoke about Michael A. Moon’s contribution to the archaeological archive at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. Munzhedzi’s presentation was based on his Master’s research project, which considers the contributions made by amateur archaeologists to the museum’s collections. Munzhedzi stressed that the archaeological usefulness of such amateur collections relates to their ‘co-production’ through dialogue with professional archaeologists over many years. Michael Moon’s efforts provided a poignant case study.
Ms Dimakatso Tlhoaele, Research Technician in the Human Sciences department, spoke on Izinkambaand marriage. Her paper was also based on her Masters research. She discussed a variety of colours used on pots which are symbolic. Such colours include black (mnyama), red (bomvu) and white (mhlophe). In her discussion, Tlhoaele used her ethnographic data to complement the archaeological context of a Late Iron Age site—Mgoduyanuka—in the upper uThukela Basin. Furthermore, Tlhoaele addressed how she explored the relationship between coloured pots and marriage alliances in the Late Iron Age, and this was conducted through a portable XRF method and other analyses.
Dr ThembekaNxele, Curator of Oligochaeta in the Natural Sciences, spoke on how museum-based earthworm research can benefit society. In her presentation, Nxele emphasized how earthworms contribute to agriculture by means of making the soil fertile. She explained how earthworms are the ecosystem engineers and how they promote soil fertility and quality. Her presentation was one of the most popular at the conference and it attracted many interesting questions from the audience.
Dr Igor Muratov, Curator of Mollusca in the Natural Science Department, spoke about Photographing Collections in Museums. He asked five important questions about the process of photographing collections: Which, Why, Which, Who, and How? In his presentation, Muratov argued that for safety, integrity and preservation of items, objects should only be photographed for a particular reasonable purpose. Such reasons should include publicity, inventory and research.