NSM’s Inaugural Magqubu Ntombela-Ian Player Lecture

The purpose of this annual lecture is to provide a forum for prominent and distinguished speakers who are leaders in the field of biodiversity conservation science and social science to address the general public on the subject of the environment, culture and social cohesion. It honours Magqubu Ntombela and Dr Ian Player – the profound relationship of these two men from different cultures played a significant role in the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity, initiating amongst others the internationally famous capture and translocation of the white rhino thereby effectively bring this species back from the brink of extinction. This remains one of the most celebrated contributions to conservation in Africa.

This lecture captures the interdependence of man, the landscape and the wild life; and suggests that the healing powers of the wilderness have the power to transform a nation.

Magqubu Ntombela
Few men have made so great a contribution to conservation as Magqubu Ntombela. An outstanding game ranger and wilderness guide, he served wildlife conservation from 1914 to 1993 in the game reserves of KwaZulu-Natal. An umZulu of the old tradition, he like many others who remain unrecognised, skilfully interpreted how the landscape has spiritual and practical meaning within people’s lives.

It was in the world of animals, birds, plants, insects and landscape, Zulu traditions and the Shembe religion that Magqubu lived and included other people. The lecture seeks to pay tribute to Magqubu’s contribution to wildlife conservation, to honour his memory, to nurture the quality of Africa’s young conservationists and restore primal wisdom to its rightful place.

Dr Ian Player, who considers Magqubu his great mentor and friend, once said: “Through his patient instruction he introduced me to a new cosmology. We worked together capturing rhino and on long patrols fighting poaching gangs. Together we took more than 1000 people into wilderness areas of iMfolozi and Lake St Lucia. He always led with courage; following the rhino paths and stopping to explain the history of the landscape. For Magqubu the hills and trees lived.”

Magqubu Ntombela died in October 1993 – he was over 90 years old.

Dr Ian Player
Dr Ian Player DMS, born March 15, 1927 (age 83), is one of the world’s outstanding conservationists and environmental statesmen. Born in South Africa in 1927, he “earned his stripes” in the rough and tumble era during which Africa’s protected areas were being created and tested. Ian Player is a ‘man of many reasons’ for wilderness: African game ranger, international diplomat, writer, lecturer, wilderness guide, and a man of culture, the arts and psychology. Ian brings all of these parts of himself to bear on a single mission, to assure that wilderness remains a constant reality, and a source of spiritual inspiration, prosperity and fundamental physical life on planet Earth.

Significance of the Lecture
It is our belief that the preservation of traditional knowledge, history and culture has become absolutely vital in Southern Africa if we are to prosper as a winning nation and respect the diversity of people and culture.

The Lecture is committed to encouraging the youth of today – the future leaders of our wonderful country – to embrace nature and protect our heritage, and to support conservation and community-based projects. The Lecture is also dedicated to increasing conservation awareness amongst all the peoples of Southern
Africa, to exemplify how one can live harmoniously, practically and spiritually with our land, with each other and within ourselves.

The International Year of Biodiversity is a unique opportunity to increase understanding of the vital role that biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth.

Event Date and Venue
23 September 2010 at the Durban Natural Science Museum Research Centre

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