UKZN’s final-year Bachelor of Medical Science students were recently exposed to the art of curating museums, thanks to a practical innovative initiative based on anatomical laboratory techniques actioned by Ms Ziphozethu Ndlazi, a PhD candidate and Clinical Anatomy lecturer at the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS), where the students embarked on an on-site visit to the Durban Natural Science Museum before being tasked to set up their own body preservation museums on the Westville campus.
‘I wanted to practically translate the techniques which students were being taught in the theoretical context in this module. I also wanted to explore students’ imagination by giving them full creative rights and not being too structured with how they were to design their displays.
‘The notion of keeping museums proactive and open to the public is vital as they are beacons of rich and diverse information. They are time capsules, playing a vital role in the preservation of historical events and various aspects of life. One can learn diverse stories and sources of information relating to historical events, culture, nature and social aspects of life. They serve to inspire and educate and have an integral role in social impact within the community,’ said Ndlazi.
Although Ndlazi has never worked there, she said visiting spaces and places such as museums, historical sightings, botanical gardens – which she referred to as ‘national treasures’ – has been part of her life since infancy. ‘I have been fortunate that my parents, the schools I attended, and the friends I keep have afforded me such opportunities.’
She uses active involvement within the module to create an interest in concepts that students sometimes find hard, tedious or boring. ‘It’s very rare to forget something you had a pleasant moment while creating.’
Fascinated by the human body, Ndlazi said: ‘The craftsmanship it took to create the human body is unfathomable, one can never completely say they know the body inside-out. There is always something spectacular to discover and learn and that’s what keeps me wanting to know more.
‘All the academics were impressed with the level of work and dedication shown by students. Everyone had a pleasant experience, the feedback I received was honestly mind-blowing. I was particularly proud of my students on how they executed and delivered the concept,’ she said.
Ndlazi’s PhD is focused on the critical role of indigenous knowledge systems in the treatment and management of infectious diseases. She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka PhD track grant recipient, specifically investigating the ethnomedicinal potential of South African traditional medicine in treating urinary tract infections.
Words: Lunga Memela