Stellenbosch University: SU Museum wins award for promoting multilingualism

Stellenbosch University Museum has been awarded the 2022 National PanSALB (Pan South African Language Board) Multilingualism Award for using and promoting multilingualism at a higher education institute.

The SU Museum accepted this prestigious award at a PanSALB ceremony in Johannesburg on 15 June. SU and two other universities, the University of Venda and Unisa’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) division, were the nominees for this award in the education category.

This award, among others, recognises the SU Museum’s commitment to marketing its programmes as wide as possible to cater for its diverse audiences and make the Museum inclusive. The Museum presents all its marketing communication in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

The PanSALB award will now hang next to the Museum’s other two awards received in 2018 – the Cultural Affairs Award for “Best Museum Promoting Social Inclusion” and the Sustainable Development Award from the Cape Winelands District Municipality.

Thrilled and excited about this award for promoting multilingualism, Bongani Mgijima, Director of the SU Museum, revealed that the Museum had decided years ago to have programmes in line with the University’s Vision 2040 and be more socially inclusive while promoting community involvement.

“To achieve this and broaden the Museum’s social impact in the community, we decided to circulate all the museum’s marketing collateral in English, Afrikaans and IsiXhosa since these are the main languages spoken in the Western Cape,” said Mgijima.

With the Museum’s enhancement of multilingualism and social inclusion, the Museum was a strong candidate for this PanSALB award to individuals, institutes or organisations that excelled in the “promotion, protection and preservation of all official languages including Khoi, Nama and San languages as well South African Sign Language”.

Besides the Education category, the other award categories were Language and Literature, Language Activist Award, Media, Youth, Government or Public Sector, Technology and Business, Music, Translation and Interpretation and the Chairperson’s lifetime achievement awards.

Except for SU Museum’s multilingual marketing material, it also has other programmes promoting diverse cultures and languages like the African Drumming Tuesdays, which enables tourists and locals to learn the skills of playing the African drum.

Additionally, the Museum has active public educational programmes to attract diverse audiences. The Access to Visual Arts programme is the Museum’s flagship social impact programme aimed at school learners, paying for students from disadvantaged schools to be able to broaden learners’ access to the University Museum and introduce learners to art.

The Wednesday Art Walkabout is an initiative of the University Museum to educate and share its art collections with the public, while the Just Conversations series focuses on key issues such as intergenerational struggles, identity, silences in African history, the role of archives and museums as it relates to social justice to name but a few of the issues that activists, academics, and practitioners will discuss.

Last but not least, the Ubuntu Dialogues Project, a collaboration that centres around transnational dialogue and engagement among students, faculty and community partners in South Africa and the United States.

According to Mgijima, the circulation of marketing collateral by the Museum in the three national languages is testimony to the Museum’s commitment to market its programmes as wide as possible to cater for its diverse audience and make the Museum more inclusive to all.