The Founding Team
The team of people who are instrumental in the vision, research, design and establishment of the Camissa Museum.
Robina Marks was born in Cape Town, and was educated at the University of the Western Cape, the University of Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management and the University of Sussex’s Institute for Development Studies. Ms Marks was an activist and a regional organizer of the United Democratic Front, a national grassroots movement that campaigned for the unbanning of the African National Congress and all other banned organisations, and the release of political prisoners. She was detained and held in solitary confinement under the Internal Security Act 29 during the anti-apartheid struggle.
After the advent of democracy in 1994, Ms Marks served on the boards of various civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy and entrenching non-racism and non-sexism. She has also worked as a Diversity Consultant, Research Fellow, and Lecturer. She was the Department of International Relations’ first Chief Director: Gender in the Office of the Director-General. In October 2011 she joined South Africa’s diplomatic corps and was appointed Ambassador to Thailand. She had a particular interest in researching South Africa-Thai linkages through the slave trade and raised awareness on this neglected part of Thai history with the African continent.
Ms Marks was later appointed as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, where she was a regular speaker on areas such as transitional justice, gender and Africa-Sri Lanka linkages. She wrote a well-received children’s book about the history of the Slave Trade and the descendants of African slaves brought to Sri Lanka during colonial times. She also established the Afro-Sri Lankan Scholarship Fund for children of African descendants, so as to break the cycle of poverty in this marginalised community. She is now South Africa’s ambassador to Benin.
Shepi Mati has a long history of engagement within the research, heritage, history and education arena and has a B.Journ degree from Rhodes University, Advanced Diploma in Institution Development from Manchester University, M.Ed from the University of Western Cape, M.Phil from University of Stellenbosch. He currently lectures on Audio Journalism, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University.
Besides being a champion of heritage and history education and having a long track-record in community development, Shepi was a researcher and co-author of ground-breaking heritage research projects of the SA Human Sciences Research Council. Two of these were “The other side of freedom: stories of hope and loss in the South African liberation struggle 1950-1994” co-authored by GF Houston, S Mati, H Magidimisha, E Vivier, and M Dipholo, published by HSRC Press; and “The liberation struggle and liberation heritage sites in South Africa” published by G Houston, S Mati, D Seabe, J Peires, D Webb, S Dumisa, and K Sausi, published by HSRC Press.
Shepi Mati has devoted more than twenty years to the heritage, media and communications sector in South Africa, working for a broad range of organisations including public and community broadcasters and civil society organisations. His professional experience includes production (video, photo, radio, podcast, broadcast journalism), script writing, editing, communications research and teaching, training and development. Shepi has a special passion for community journalism and specifically radio as a medium to promote citizen agency and reflect a diversity of voices in community development. As a patron of the Camissa Museum he brings informed history and heritage insight, communications and organisational development expertise, but also a track-record as a veteran voice of social activism in the Cape.
Calvyn Gilfellan is the Chief Executive of the Castle Control Board, the body that manages the Castle of Good Hope which is the home of the Camissa Museum, and the oldest colonial building in South Africa. Calvyn is one of the country’s foremost experts in the tourism and heritage sector with over 31 years of experience in cultural tourism, training, tourism research, marketing, consulting, public administration, strategic planning and governance.
Under his leadership, the image of the Castle of Good Hope is being transformed from a bastion of armed colonial conquest and Apartheid oppression, into a symbol of inclusion, education, healing and nation-building. After completion of his BA Honours degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 1984 he joined UWC as a junior lecturer/researcher in February 1985. While lecturing, he completed his master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at UWC in 1991. His full-research thesis is titled ‘The Socioeconomic, Cultural and Morphological Impact of Tourism on Historic Mission Stations in the Western Cape: Genadendal, Elim Wuppertal.’
In 2000, he left UWC to take up a challenging but rewarding post as Director: Tourism Development, in Mpumalanga Province. After that, he joined the Western Cape’s Destination Marketing Organisation (CTRU) as Executive Manager (2004–2007) and then as Chief Executive (2007–2012). Gilfellan is very active in the social movement in his hometown of Paarl and has served in various capacities on an array of community-based and civic organizations. Besides Gilfellan’s many public opinion pieces on contemporary heritage debates, he also regularly shares his expertise and experience on formal national and international platforms.
Patric Tariq Mellet was born and raised in the Salt River, Woodstock, and District Six in Cape Town. Starting working life at age 16 as an apprentice mechanical engineer, he later also qualified as a lithographic printer. Patric started two anti-Apartheid newspapers which were banned by the Apartheid Regime – ‘Young Voice’ and ‘New Voice’. Forced to leave South Africa into exile in 1978, he served under arms and worked for the ANC as a printer, journalist, designer, and broadcaster in the resistance media department, also serving on the editorial boards of liberation movement periodicals. Mellet graduated with a diploma from the London University of the Arts – College of Communication, and with an MSc degree from the Buckinghamshire New University. His dissertation focussed on the Enslaved of the Cape and Cape Indigenous Peoples as a heritage tourism niche.
Mellet was the first Director of Public Relations & Protocol in the post-Apartheid Parliament of SA, and before retiring, he served as Special Advisor to Minister Naledi Pandor, as well as Commanding Officer DHA Inspectorate – Director Aviation and Maritime Ports Control for South Africa’s international airports and harbours, specializing in the combat of human trafficking. In 2005 he was commissioned by IZIKO Museums to produce a business plan for the transformation of the old Cultural History Museum into the Slave Lodge Museum. This was a progression on heritage exhibitions and a tableau that he produced for UCT and Parliament respectively. In 2009 his work on the intangible heritage of the Cape received a Provincial Honours award. He has published two books – “Lenses on Cape Identities” and “The lie of 1652 – A decolonised history of land”. A frequent commentator on Camissa African identity in the news, he has also made TV-documentaries on the subject.
Twenty years ago, he developed a unique tool – the Camissa Seven-Tributary Matrix for exploring 195 ancestral-cultural roots of origin of people who had been classified by the colonial term ‘Coloured’ and argued for the embrace of a non-racial and non-colourist dignified terminology – Camissa African. His own family tree includes twenty-eight slaves from ten global locations; five ||Ammaqua and Cochoqua Khoe ancestors; and nineteen Europeans who married across the colour line. In 2019 the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture appointed Mellet to the Governance Council of the South African Heritage Resources Agency. The Camissa Museum is a culmination of a 28-year process of broad consultations initiated by the late Reg September, Patric Tariq Mellet and others, through the Roots & Visions Forum established by Reg September who had envisioned the establishment of a museum of this type at the Castle of Good Hope.
Angus Leendertz was born and raised in Cape Town and left South Africa in 1974 to complete his studies in Interior Architecture at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, having completed a course in Graphic Design at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT. He moved to Australia in 1980 where he started his career in Sydney working on many high-profile projects in the field of architecture and design. In 1997, Angus responded to Mandela’s general call for South African professionals to return and relocated to Cape Town until 2010.
Landmark projects of Angus in South Africa include the Permanent Exhibition on Slavery at the Slave Lodge Cape Town, and the conversion of the Robben Island Medium B Prison to a Resource Centre with accommodation, which included a Seta approved product design learner-ship. Flagship design projects for the Parliament of South Africa, the Arabella Sheraton Hotels and Kirstenbosch restaurant attest to a diverse portfolio. At various times in his career he has worked as a Livelihood Consultant for UNESCO and the Ford Foundation, conceptualizing and piloting courses in product design development as a means of income generation for historically disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and communities in South Africa and other locations in Africa.
Angus is the curator of the international multimedia exhibition ‘Memories of the Struggle – Australians against Apartheid’ which has shown at Customs House Sydney, the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra, Constitution Hill in Johannesburg and The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. Angus is currently working with historian Patric Tariq Mellet on the establishment of the Camissa Museum at The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. He is a PhD candidate at Canberra University and will complete the doctorate in August 2020 and resides in Sydney.
Colin Jones is the former chairman of Iziko Museums Cape Town, South Africa. He served as its acting director during the search for a full-time director for the establishment of the institution in the post-Apartheid era. He was appointed by the Ministry of Arts and Culture to lead the restructuring and transformation process of national museums in South Africa. This involved the amalgamation of thirteen independent national museums into one national museum system and the redressing of the Apartheid narrative which had previously excluded the diversity of populations in South Africa.
Colin advises internationally to museum leadership on the development of strategic thinking in addressing the role of museums in the formation of national identity, inclusive diversity and addressing sensitive historic issues in museums. He has been engaged as advisor to the Museum of London’s former director and to the Royal British Columbia Museum. He currently serves as a non-executive director of Barker Langham, a UK based museum consultancy. He has contributed essays and articles on the role of museums in the formation of national identity, the return of cultural property, and diversity in museums. During the Apartheid years, Colin Jones was also the Dean of St George’s Anglican Cathedral and a leading opponent of Apartheid.
Linnemore Nefdt was born in Cape Town in 1950 and studied fine art at the Michaelis in Cape Town (via a permit and exam bursary). She trained herself to make and sell her own clothing designs in Johannesburg and saved money to travel to Europe to study fashion at a professional level - something unavailable to a Camissa African like her in her homeland. Armed with a BA Fashion Design from the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, she worked in the industry as a designer, launched her own small brand label and ended up in education, after being asked to teach at what became the AMFI Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Amsterdam University of Applied Arts. During her 25 years there she helped build it into one of the most renowned institutes of the Netherlands and the world, a front-runner in sustainability, ethics, and social issues. She also gave workshops and talks internationally.
Since her retirement in 2015, she continued in her fields of educational coaching, circular sustainable fashion systems, socially engaged art (particularly decoloniality) and creative youth empowerment. Landmark projects (besides the Camissa Museum) are: devising a governmental trade led curriculum development plan for the first fashion degree course of the University of Applied Arts in Lima, Peru; R&D for Easy Essentials, a circular t-shirt brand; board membership and guidance of Rambler Studios Amsterdam, an innovative youth organisation; consultant for Reblend circular textiles.