Mossel Bay’s Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex – which is currently hosting a travelling exhibition about the use of medicinal plants in South African science and culture – has announced that it will also host the “Separate is Not Equal” exhibit, which was originally shown at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. and examines the issue of segregation in American schools.
Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm said that the medicinal plant exhibit – which has been set up in the Granary, the Dias Museum’s entrance building – is an interesting add-on to the permanent exhibition of live fynbos plants in the Museum and its gardens – which feature the only Braille trail in the Southern Cape.
The exhibit notes that “Plants used to be our primary source of medicine. They have been used by all cultures throughout history, and still provide us with remedies: many clinical drugs contain active ingredients derived from plant material.”
Scientists have always looked to natural and traditional medicines for new products – and the number and variety of indigenous plants makes South Africa a particularly important source in this regard.
According to the exhibition notes, the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, indicated at the 2010 Indigenous Knowledge Systems Expo, that her Department has created a ten year plan that “hopes to establish South Africa as a world leader in pharmaceuticals based on the nations indigenous resources and expanding knowledge base.”
Since the exhibition is based on the principle that South Africa’s indigenous knowledge is dynamic and interactive, one of its features is its collection diary: instead of asking visitors to supply their contact details in the usual way, the exhibition register invites them to supply any information they may have about their favourite plants.
“One of the important aspects of this exhibition is the growing awareness of the value of traditional African herbal medicine, and the role that traditional healers can – and in many cases often do – play in the areas of primary health care, and in HIV/AIDS prevention and care,” said Ms. Holm.
“The exhibition makes it clear that traditional herbal medicine is expected to continue to thrive alongside western medicine, and that it probably won’t be replaced by western medicine in the foreseeable future.:
Plants under the spotlight include the sour fig or suurvy (Carpobrotus edulis – an infusion of which is used to prevent complications in pregnancy); buchu or rondeblaar boegoe (Agathosma betulina – which has famously been used for treating stomach complaints, especially when steeped in brandy): the Agapanthus species (which are used in antenatal and postnatal care); and the sweet thorn or soetdoring (Acacia karoo – from which an infusion of bark and leaves is made for the treatment of diarrhoea).
Ms. Holm that the opening of the “Separate is Not Equal” exhibit on the 18th of July will be a special day for Mossel Bay.
“Although it has enjoyed international cooperation at various levels before, this will probably be the first time the Bartolomeu Dias Museum has hosted an exhibition that looks at the issues facing the education system in the United States,” she said.
Schools in many part of the USA were racially segregated until the landmark ‘Brown vs. Board of Education’ decision, which the United States Supreme Court handed down in 1954, and in which “the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education)
This exhibit – which has been specially curated for South African audiences by the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg - traces the struggle against segregated schooling in America. To make it more relevant to South Africans, it has been enhanced by material depicting life and conditions under apartheid which was supplied by the Liberation Archives and the Contemporary Arts Collections of Fort Hare University.
The “Separate is Not Equal” exhibition will be officially opened on Tuesday, October 25, at 6:00 p.m., at an event at which Public Diplomacy Officer, Cynthia Brown, will represent the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town, Ms. Erica Barks-Ruggles.
Members of the media who wish to attend should contact the U.S. Consulate Cape Town: Petro Mayoss, email@example.com, telephone 021 702 7445 or 071 605 8756 or Nathan Holt, firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 021 702 7373 or 079 111 0931.
By Martin Hatchuel Mossel Bay Tourism