Thandi Nqubelani is the Senior Educator: Natural History at Iziko Museums of South Africa. ‘In summary,’ she says, ‘I develop, conduct and coordinate the implementation of education programmes, learning materials, audience development and manage operational plans in Natural History.’
Mrs Nqubelani says she loves children, and enjoys her job because it provides a valuable education service. ‘I engage with a diverse range of schools, institutions and communities,’ she says. ‘As a museum we get to showcase rarities, prehistoric cultures, expand world knowledge and play a big role in preserving diverse cultures. Visitors and learners get to see our objects and artefacts up close. I love it when a visitor looks at our life-sized models and casts and their jaws drop and eyes want to pop!’
Mrs Nqubelani believes that values drive our actions and can motivate one’s goals. Her key values are respect for humankind, hard work, being a blessing to others, being motivated to grow and learn, dependability, adaptability, embracing responsibility and never giving up in reaching her goals. These values, she says, add meaning to her life.
In 2019, Mrs Nqubelani was nominated as one of the pre-jury candidates for the Goethe-Institut Science Film Festival in Africa. In 2021, she was one of the Line Managers who co-ordinated the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme for interns, in natural history.
Mrs Nqubelani’s favourite exhibitions at Iziko are World of Water, Whales & Dolphins, Shark World, Living Coelacanth, and the fine collection of artworks and decorative art objects at the National Gallery and in the William Fehr Collection – especially the exquisite teapots! She also enjoys the Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo exhibition, which features finely sculpted life-sized models of mammal-like reptiles that ruled the land areas of the world some 50 million years before the dinosaurs. ‘I enjoy the way the visitor interacts with this exhibit,’ she says. ‘They get blown away by these life-sized models and the supporting graphics portraying what the animals might have looked like in the flesh.
‘I also enjoy the Planetarium and Digital Dome, which offer an amazing experience of animation and 360◦ cinema.’
Her favourite place in Cape Town is St Helena Bay on the West Coast, because it is conveniently close to Cape Town and has stunning sea views and very calm waters. ‘My job is incredibly rewarding,’ Mrs Nqubelani says, ‘because as you teach you also learn a new thing every day. Continuous learning.’