Stellenbosch University
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Essential cogs in the Museum's machine
Author: Corporate Communication and Marketing Division/Afdeling Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking - Sandra Mulder
Published: 01/10/2021

South Africa commemorate Heritage Day this September. In celebration of this day, we feature some of the Stellenbosch University Museum staff who play an important role in ensuring the day to day running of the facility.

Over the years, the Stellenbosch University (SU) Museum has turned into an inclusive meeting place for all people, irrespective of culture, age and gender. This, however, is not only thanks to its valuable art, cultural and anthropological collections and educational programme offering. A group of dedicated staff ensure that the Museum keeps going, no matter the circumstances. 

Sylvia Jojo, Johannes Adams, Edwin September, Natasha Coltman and Lloyd Africa make up the proud team who take care of the administrative, security and housekeeping tasks so that the Museum is ready to welcome visitors and runs effectively. To this end, they are at their posts long before the Museum opens its doors in the mornings.

Visitors entering the Museum are greeted by a friendly Adams. Senior custodian for the past 16 years, his work is to manage access to the Museum, take down visitors' information and monitor the security cameras. In this way, he keeps track of who enters the premises, and when, and keeps an eye on the safety and security of the facilities, collections and the people visiting or working in the building. He enjoys welcoming visitors, and especially meeting so many diverse people. “I am always pleased to see people from different cultures visiting the Museum. Our facility truly caters for all people, and it feels good when they learn more about their own and one another's cultures here," he says.

Working alongside Adams is assistant custodian Africa. He helps with visitor control at the entrance, and security camera monitoring, while also dealing with visitor enquiries and arranging events at the Museum. “Having gone through the different COVID-19 lockdown levels, it's good that the Museum is open again, and to see visitors arriving to view the exhibitions or attend events," he says. “COVID has taught me to live life to the fullest because you never know when it is your last day."

Indeed, like all other SU environments, the Museum too has been significantly affected by the pandemic. Many events have had to shift online, visitor numbers dropped, and staff's work routines have changed. Cleaner Jojo, who has been with the Museum for the past 14 years, says her work has become even more critical since the coronavirus outbreak. “I clean the Museum at the start and the end of every workday," she explains, “and then also continue to disinfect every space where visitors or staff members are throughout the day."

Down the hall is the office of administrative officer Coltman, who helps with events, provides general secretarial support, handles financial transactions and takes care of project administration. “I am involved in all events behind the scenes, ensure the smooth running of the Museum overall, and provide secretarial support at meetings whenever required," she says. 

Finally, it is up to September, the senior technical officer, to open and lock up the Museum and manage the alarm system. He attends to regular alarm checks, general maintenance tasks, and also helps build the frameworks and installations required for the Museum's collections.

The close-knit team regard the University as their employer of choice. To them, their workplace feels like a second home, and their colleagues like family. “My colleagues and I treat one another like family," confirms Jojo. “Celebrating our birthdays is always special." And while the pandemic has affected them all, it has also taught them some valuable lessons about standing firm and persevering. “Change is a part of life, so we have to accept changes in our working environment over time," says September. Coltman adds: “Every struggle in your life shapes you. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger."