AFTER a long wait, the Port Shepstone Maritime Museum was finally handed over to the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality on Tuesday, October 23 by the MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Bongi Sithole-Moloi. Sithole-Moloi unveiled the new museum on behalf of Premier Willies Mchunu.The state-of-the-art museum, made possible by an investment of R19 160 538. 77, was handed over in a joint collaboration between the Premier’s office, the KZN MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation and the Ray Nkonyeni municipality. The handover coincides with the birth month of Albertina Sisulu, whose milestones, along with those of Nelson Mandela, are to be showcased in one of the museum’s displays.The museum is one of many projects which were announced by the MEC in 2016 that were to be completed within the Ugu District.Addressing scores of people at a ceremony at the St Martin de Porres School sports grounds, MEC Sithole-Moloi said that while the day was dedicated to the opening of a newly-built museum, it was also important for South Africans to remember where they came from. Sithole-Moloi said it was undeniable that museums have been there for a very long time. “However, not many of us knew what they were, let alone what was in them. This was because the museums founded during colonial times and under Apartheid were geared towards the preservation of European culture and were all built in areas where White people lived. “It was not easy therefore for Africans to visit these institutions, which were built in areas where they were not wanted and which housed artefacts that had little or no reference to them and their experiences,” said Sithole-Moloi. “But, since the new government is for all people, we cannot afford to use resources exclusively for one culture. “Today we are launching a top of the range museum that, as we shall see, is showcasing diverse cultural and historical themes of the people from this area,” she said.The multi-million rand museum features a state-of-the-art amphitheatre that can accommodate 50 to 60 people, an exhibition area, gallery space, archive storerooms, ablutions for disabled people, a boardroom with electronic conference facilities, offices, surveillance cameras, cleaner’s room, a reception area, and parking space.The museum also houses an exhibition reflecting the history of the local community and surrounding areas.