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From left: Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust; Professor
Keyan Tomaselli and Ms Mary Lange.

Two UKZN academics have published a book on rock engravings near Kakamas in the Northern Cape.

This follows a project involving ?Khomani San community members and researchers from UKZN’s Centre for Communication Media and Society (CCMS), the University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town, the McGregor Museum Kimberley, and ARROWSA.

The book, titled: Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices, was written by Professor Keyan Tomaselli and Ms Mary Lange of the CCMS with contributions from Centre members, Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust and Ms Shanade Barnabas.

The launch was held at the Duggan-Cronin Gallery at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

The project was managed via CCMS in association with ARROWSA – an art, culture and heritage for peace outreach organisation affiliated with the Centre.  Lange, a CCMS graduate and research advisor, wrote the proposal and raised the research funds from the National Heritage Council. 

According to Tomaselli, CCMS staff and graduate students were closely involved in the project in writing chapters, doing their theses on the topic, and evaluating the work done.  This involved the CCMS team interacting with teams from the University of Cape Town, the University of Pretoria and archaeologists from the McGregor Museum, in the area of landscape architecture and architecture.

‘UKZN puts great store in the study of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and indigenous languages,’ said Tomaselli. ‘This book publishes its rock engraving narratives in English, Afrikaans and in Nama, the latter being one of the languages of Kalahari communities.  The contributions by our indigenous co-researchers totally rethinks the notion that research must and can only be done by the educated and written and presented in technical “scientific” formats,’ said Tomaselli.

‘The main challenge is explaining to our peers and the SAPSE bureaucrats that this kind of research and publication is the natural and positive outcome of IKS thinking – one of the cornerstones of the post-apartheid education condition.  A highlight was that we established a new post-modern archaeological paradigm that reads landscapes in new, indigenous-centred, ways.’

The book was described by archaeologist Professor Sven Ouzman as, ‘A very timely book-project-performance because such projects are so rare’, while cultural and media scholar Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri said, ‘Descendants of the “First People” participate as co-authors… their voices include stories and myths about their own experiential and ontological perspectives.’  Landscape architect Ms Melinda Silverman says the book showcases new ways of doing research in a contested and fractured environment.

The book costs R360 and will be available online soon.