The Heart of the City

(Chapter written for Undressing Durban book)

Inyanga, Warwick Triangle. Photograph by Roger Jardine.

I’m hopping about on one leg, in the middle of a busy walkway, obstructing morning commuters.  Directly across from me is the herb-sellers market, above me cars funnel into the city while below colourful aprons are strewn across stairs, the ladies selling them sitting on upturned crates.  “Is this the right size?” I ask Crops as I squeeze my foot into a cross-strapped rubber sandal.  “Sure, sure, stretch to fit,” he answers.  Crops makes and sells imbadadada (a home-made shoe or literally ‘someone who walks with an awkward gait’) from a small outlet on the edge of Warwick Triangle.  Pairs are lined up outside his shop, in rows based on style and size. The imbadadada is a thick, hard-wearing sandal, with two straps along the front and one along the back, originally made by Zulu tribesmen.  Johnny Clegg made these shoes popular with a wider audience in the eighties, dancing in a pair on stages across the world.

“I make these myself from the car tires,” Crops tells me.  “It’s an old design.  They first started making them in the 1950s.  The people buy it for the traditional dance or just to wear.  It is comfortable and they last a long time.   I am also making these new styles now, ones with the buckle and ones with Nike.”

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UKZN’s KZN Literary Tourism project launches the North Coast Writers Trail

Professor of English Studies at UKZN Lindy Stiebel together with fellow colleague Mr Niall McNulty have managed to get the North Coast Writers Trail ready for avid literary tourists recently.

The literary tourism duo both worked tirelessly to create a niche area which links writers, places and their works through literary tourism. This was the case with the North Coast Writers Trail that saw the team creating a route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down places linked to a writer, such as a birthplace, home or burial site.

This particular trail focused on well-known writers from the North Coast such as Mafika Gwala, Dianne Stewart, Rosamund Kendal and BP Singh. Some of the sites to visit that make the trail interesting are the site of the first sugarcane mill at Morewood, the Chief Albert Luthuli Museum and the burial site of King Shaka.

‘We developed a partnership with the Ilembe Municipality based at Ballito to train up to 10 community guides to run this literary trail and provide knowledge to tourists and visitors. We had three days of training that included workshops and practical sessions in the field.’

‘The guides were chosen based on their interest in writing, culture and heritage tourism,’ explained Stiebel. 

She pointed out that it is a challenge to create connections for the trails between writers, their works and related sites but they managed to do this on the North Coast Writers’ Trail as with others they have developed. The feedback for those that did embark on the trail with the community guides was positive and enlightening. 

‘We had to go on research trips to the places, take photos and get interesting information about the writers. It was a lot of fun to find out about the North Coast, its writers and related places and we got to learn the most fascinating things,’ said McNulty.

Words by Melissa Mungroo

How to build an Indigenous Digital Library through Community Participation

African Libraries and Information Centres are poorly equipped to make a meaningful contribution to the current global digital knowledge economy. The paucity of African stories and community information on the web predicates the limited role of heritage and information practitioners in Africa. Low local content on the Web retards buy-in from local communities into digital resources, impeding ICT skills development and social transformation. These issues could be addressed successfully through provision of indigenous knowledge resources, sourced from the community, as part of public library services.
This paper describes a concept for the development of user-generated content compiled in an Indigenous digital library, making use of current mobile and web technologies. Informed by empirical practice based on a real African case-study, the innovative use of internet-based mobile applications that permits the exchange of information is explained, highlighting the interaction between the library, the community and the latest technologies. By re-aligning their services thus public libraries in Africa have the potential to reduce the digital divide an promote sustainable development.

More Info: Co-authored with Elizabeth Greyling. SCECSAL 2012 Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Published in the conference proceedings ‘Information for Sustainable Development in a Digital Environment’: 400-411.
Publication Date: 2012
Publication Name: Information for Sustainable Development in a Digital Environment