Mbanyana spices up heritage

2018-09-13 06:00
Nokuthula Mbanyana during a behind-the-scenes tour of the entomology collections. PHOTO: Nigel Pamplin

Nokuthula Mbanyana during a behind-the-scenes tour of the entomology collections. PHOTO: Nigel Pamplin

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The South African Museum is home to the oldest entomology collection in the country.

It is the workplace of a dedicated team of scientists who are passionate about preservation, conservation and the accumulation of knowledge to provide us with insights into the ecology and workings of our landscape.

Nokuthula Mbanyana is one of these scientists.

Ants and all things creepy-crawly, other than spiders, is her passion.

She considers the world of insects an integral part of our natural heritage and therefore an integral part of all life.

Entomology is a branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects, including butterflies, moths and flies of various kinds

Mbanyana completed her BSc (Hons) at Stellenbosch University in 2010 and is one of the curators of entomology at the Iziko South African Museum.

Words like “terrestrial” (referring to earth and animals who live mostly on land), “insecta” (a group of animals classified by a set of distinguishing features, such as three-part bodies, including ants, bees, cockroaches and butterflies) and “phylum” (a category in the biological classification of organisms) form part of her everyday vocabulary.

Items like stereoscopes (a specific type of viewing instrument not to be confused with a microscope), pitfall traps, nets and lots of pins are but a few of the instruments that are included in her field of study.

Mbanyana recently formed part of a multidisciplinary curatorial team, responsible for the upgrading and relaunch of the exhibition “Tata Madiba: Father of our Democracy, Father of our Nation”.

The exhibition brings together objects, artworks, as well as insect and plant specimens to stimulate conversation about Madiba’s life and legacy as well as his extraordinary contribution in terms of the protection of South Africa’s rich biodiversity – including the many species named after him and those he and his fellow prisoners may have encountered on Robben Island.

She recently presented a paper at the International Society of Hymenopterists conference, in Japan.

When not researching and studying insects or curating exhibitions, Mbanyana- among other things- takes care of her family and explores the world we live in.

Iziko Museums of South Africa will commemorate Heritage Month, hosting the exciting week-long In_herit Festival, a cultural programme that kicks off with a Heritage Day celebration. The organisation offers free entry to selected Iziko Museums during Heritage Week, Monday 24 to Sunday 30 September. The Castle of Good Hope and Groot Constantia are free only on Heritage Day.

City Vision is the proud media partner of the In_herit Festival.

Iziko’s exhibitions, programmes and events are aligned to and support the national theme: “The Year of Nelson Mandela: Advancing Transformation of South Africa’s Heritage Landscape”. It speaks conserving and keeping heritage alive.

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