Vieux Farak Toure opens Sahara exhibition


SAHARA-BORN: Malian musician Vieux Farak Toure performed at the Wits Origins Centre on Tuesday night. Photo: Ndundu Sithole.

Malian music, African archeology, arts and culture came to together at the Wits Origins Centre on Tuesday night to celebrate the history of the Sahara, in the first collaboration of its kind.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, Malian musician Vieux Farak Toure helped to bring northern and southern Africa archeology together as his performed at the opening of the Sahara exhibition.

The exhibition uses multimedia to tell the story of the Sahara, how it is has transformed, and shaped all those who find their roots in it, from the time of the first native Malian Tuareg nomads.

“We think of ourselves as Africans and we have sense that we are born here, but Sahara is the biggest part of Africa and very few people in Joburg know about that,” said curator, Lara Mallen.

The music by highly-acclaimed Toure then was a fitting way to open the exhibition.

“I am from the Sahara, born down there, I’m from there. It’s a great honor because it takes me back there in a way,” he said.

While the African continent has gone through an array of social and political disputes, the Sahara exhibition is a reminder of the rich cultural history of the African continent.

Professor Tawana Kupe, Wits deputy vice chancellor (finance) and chairman of the Origins Centre, said that the exhibition was important in placing the university, as well African archeology as major players in the world.

“People often ask where are the origins, they are right here,” he said.

The Sahara exhibition is on at the Wits Oigins Center until 15 October, the exhibition is open to the public at R45.00 per person.



Slain photographer Ken Oosterbroek honoured with exhibition

By Zelmarie Goosen and Tracey Ruff


LOOKING ON AT LEGENDS: Ken Oosterbroek’s brother, Connell and a supporter, look on at a portrait of Ken (right) and his colleague, Kevin Carter (left). Carter was also part of the renowned Bang-Bang Club. The portrait is part of an exhibition in honour of Oosterbroek’s legacy in photojournalism. Photo: Tracey Ruff

Ken Oosterbroek was just 31 when he was shot and killed by the people he was trying to photograph just days before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

20 years later, his friends, family and colleagues gathered at the Wits Origins Centre for the opening of an exhibition honouring the work of this extraordinary photojournalist on Wednesday night. The exhibition curates some of Oosterbroek’s work, and photographs of him practicing his craft, in a celebration of the profession, and art, of photojournalism.

The legacy of Oosterbroek

Oosterbroek is considered one of South Africa’s greatest photojournalists. He is renowned for being a part of a group of four prominent photographers who became known as the Bang-Bang Club, a group which regularly photographed life within the townships of South Africa in the early nineties. João Silva, one of four, along with Greg Maronivich and Kevin Carter, was a also guest speaker at the exhibition.

“Ken was passionate about photography beyond words,” said Silva, who lost his legs in Afghanistan while working as a war-photographer. His (Oosterbroek’s) “obsession with photography”, according to Silva, is part of what made him great. He never let up until he felt like he was one of the best photographers in South Africa.

[pullquote]“Ken was everything I aspired to”.[/pullquote]

“His photos went beyond ego”, said a clearly-passionate Silva. “Ken was everything I aspired to”.

Oosterbroek killed while on assignment for The Star newspaper in Thokoza, a township east of Johannesburg, just days before the 1994 elections.

An emotional exhibition

Deputy Editor of The Star and master of ceremonies, Kevin Ritchie, felt witnessing Oosterbroek’s work and meeting world-class photographers at the exhibition was “a bucket list tick”.

“It really is a goose-bump moment for us [to be here celebrating] the legends of our newspaper” said Ritchie.

The Star editor, Makhudu Sefara, said the exhibition is a small way to say thank you to people like Oosterbroek and others who took a “mammoth risk” in the name of photojournalism.

“We are … acutely aware that the work on display today represents a fraction of the body of work” produced by Oosterbroek, Alf Khumalo (Oosterbroek’s mentor), and many others.

Sefara emphasised the power of the photograph and what photojournalism has done in bringing about transformation and telling the South African story.

“As we look into the future, we need to look into what we are doing. We need to look at the industry now and…have a moment of reflection and ask ourselves whether we’re stepping up” to the “ultimate sacrifices” made by people like Oosterbroek.


National Science Week: Be an archaeologist at Wits for a day

DIG IN: Andrew van der Heever shows a student how to excavate. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

DIG IN: Andrew van der Heever shows Wits Vuvuzela journalist Liesl Frankson how to excavate an archeological site. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Ever dreamt of being Indiana Jones?

 As part of National Science Week, The Wits Origins Centre offers children and students the chance to be an archaeologist for a day as part of their “Discovering the Past” exhibition.

ROCK ON: Andrew van der Heever   . Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

ROCK ON: Van der Heever  explains the process involved in finding objects. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Kids and adults of all ages have the chance to spend time at “The Dig” in the South African Rock Museum where they can dig through different layers of earth to uncover different, but genuine artefacts in the simulated digs. More than 150 people  have already visited the centre since the exhibition opened on Saturday. During the course of National Science Week visitors can also tour the museum for free.
Andrew van der Heever, MA in Archaeology, and collection manager of about one million artifacts in the museum,  guides school pupils and students to dig, stop, map and screen their archaeological finds.
According to van der Heever, archaeologists cannot just take the objects out of the dig before mapping it. “Context is the most important, how the artifact formed how it fell into place. the environment also gives context,” he said.
One of the aims of the project is to attract children and students of all ages. Van der Heever said not many people know about archaeology, as it is not taught in schools. “The idea is to get youngsters involved. If you get more people into archaeology, you can get more funding.”
Although sciences such as Engineering, Biology and Physics receive the bulk of funding and interest, the Archaeology third years are very passionate about the profession.
Archaeology forms part of van der Heever’s love of history. Monica Gumede, 3rd year Archaeology, fell in love with archaeology after she met the archaeological legends at Wits such as David Lewis-Williams, went to the veld schools and got first hand experience of archaeology and digs. Now she has never been as passionate about anything else.