For those of you who aren’t aware, the Ulwazi blog is a small part of the larger Ulwazi Programme, a wiki which stores information on indigenous knowledge local to the eThekwini region. This information is collected via our dedicated fieldworkers who go out into their communities each month to research stories with the aim of recording, and thus preserving, Zulu culture.
The team is currently made up of Mabusi Kgwete, Nqobile Mdabe, Mbusiswa Jerry Zuma, and Nelisiwe Hlongwane, and we thought it was about time that you met them! Over the next few months we’ll be introducing you to this great team one-by-one, so that the next time you read one of their stories you’ll have a better idea of the person who wrote it!
Nqobile Mdabe joined the Ulwazi Programme three and-a-half years ago in January 2011. Nqobile was looking for work when she crossed paths with Mabusi Kgwete, the manager of the Ulwazi fieldworkers team. After attending a workshop hosted by Ulwazi on how to interview community members and how to compose a story, Mabusi submitted her first story on ‘Mafukuzela Day’, a day that honours John Langalibalele Dube, the founder of the Ohlange Institute where Nqobile completed her Matric.
Nqobile says that she has learned a lot through Ulwazi, not just about writing, but also about her own culture. With a Christian upbringing her parents didn’t expose her to much traditional Zulu culture, so when Nqobile interviews her neighbours in Inanda for her Ulwazi stories, she’s educating herself at the same time as the broader community.
For Nqobile, Ulwazi is not just a job. She says that the people at Ulwazi are her family – and it’s not just talk, Nqobile has named her little boy after the programme. Her son, Ulwazi (knowledge) will be three this year.