DITSONG: Museums of South Africa (DMSA) is a custodian of our cultural, natural and military history. DMSA aims to create a platform of celebration for women who have excelled in the Arts and Culture. This Women’s Month, our celebrant is Nnoseng Ellen Kate Kuzwayo. An exhibition of women in the arts will open at DITSONG: National Museum of Cultural History. DMSA is mandated to play a key role in nation-building, social cohesion and socio-economic development.

Ellen Kuzwayo was a women’s rights activist and politician in South Africa and a teacher from 1938-1952. In the 1960s she became the president of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. She was detained under a terrorism act and unfortunately lost the farm in Orange Free State which belonged to her family for nearly 100 years. She never lost courage and dignity. She was chosen as woman of the year in 1979 by the Johannesburg newspaper and The Star. She was the first black writer to be awarded the CNA literary prize for Call Me Woman. She was the most humble, determined and capable woman of the 20th century. She became a parliamentarian in the first democratic government of South Africa.

Her life story is largely shaped by her desire to empower the youth and women. Women in the arts will be telling her story through Art. There will be plenty to see at the exhibition including videos of her movies and books she wrote.

Date: Thursday, 29-08-19
Time: 10h00 – 16h00
Venue: DITSONG: National Museum of Cultural History
149 Visagie Street, Pretoria
GPS Co-ordinates: 25º 45’ 29.7” S 28º 11’ 05.7” E

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By Allan Sinclair

The DITSONG National Museum of Military History was delighted to have Major Mandisa Mfeka as a guest on 1 August 2019. Maj Mfeka has the distinction of being the first black female to qualify as a fighter pilot in the South African Air Force (SAAF) and she was the subject of a television advert being filmed at the Museum on that day for Women’s Month.

Maj Mfeka grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, where, from an early age her mother and grandmother would take her on regular trips to see the air shows at Virginia Airport in Durban.  The aircraft flying overhead fascinated her and stimulated her interest in flying. At the age of sixteen she came across a recruitment advertisement produced by the SAAF. While reading it she saw that she had the requirements necessary to be a combat pilot and did not hesitate to enrol after leaving school in 2008.

Her training was challenging and Mfeka admits that it was both physically and emotionally demanding.  Her determination carried her through it and in 2011 she achieved her number one aim of earning the SAAF pilot’s wings.  Once she had graduated on the Pilatus PC-7 Trainer she transferred to 85 Combat Flying School at Air Force Base Makado in Limpopo, where she currently serves on the BAE Hawk Mk 120 Lead-In Flight Trainer.

A major milestone in Mfeka’s career occurred on 25 May 2019 when she formed part of the Hawks Formation Display Team which took part in the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa at Loftus Versfeldt in Pretoria. Maj Mfeka is quoted as stating that being a combat pilot is mentally stimulating. Her technical expertise is growing day by day and she is also learning more about aerodynamics. She lives by the saying, “The sky is the baseline”.  This effectively means that the excellence bar pushed yesterday should be the starting point for tomorrow.

Maj Mandisa Mfeka sitting on the steps leading up to the Douglas C 47 Dakota at the Museum.