ALSA visits the South African Station (SANAE IV) on Antarctica

Antarctica, Anche Louw, Ria Olivier

ALSA received the opportunity to visit the SANAE IV (South African National Antarctic Expedition) Station in the first two weeks of January. Anché and I left to accomplish the task of gathering as much information as possible of the current research station, as well as the rich history of South Africa’s involvement on the Antarctic continent. This information will be preserved in the ALSA archive and create an awareness of SANAP (South African National Antarctic Programme) through the SANAP platform and other ventures. We had the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with this station and surroundings on Antarctica and be able to ensure authenticity to the Legacy project.

In 2013, a discussion was held with the National Research Foundation (Dr Kaniki and Mrs Klarenbeek) as to the importance of the ALSA archive (digital repository). During this discussion the importance of creating knowledge of South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic region was emphasised. To create knowledge of a subject one needs to familiarise oneself with the subject and ensure that all resources are identified. The knowledge will be created through information available on the archive, therefore, the archive has to be a comprehensive collection of all material. In the past decade ALSA relied on mostly overwintering team members to donate their information (images, documents and personal material). Over the years the archive has been assessed and evaluated and lack of important information has been identified.

This visit to SANAE IV will help with the lack of this information that needs to be preserved through the archive. It is of utmost importance not to just preserve the legacy of South Africa down South, but to promote it in South Africa and internationally. ALSA was able to enrich our collection of information during our visit to SANAE IV and will now be able to be preserve this heritage for future generations of South Africa.

Our legacy (something that is a part of Antarctic history and the remains from this involvement) and our heritage (features belonging to the culture of our Antarctic community, such as traditions of midwinter, languages, or stations, that were created in the past and have historical importance) are a vital part of the cultural heritage. South Africa’s Antarctic Legacy includes the qualities, traditions, or features of life in the Antarctic region that have continued over many years and have been passed on from one generation to another to preserve it for the future.

Anché Louw went above and beyond duty to get footage of SANAE IV and its surroundings in order to create 360° images of the SANAE IV station. This huge effort of collecting material will also enable family and friends of team members and take-over personnel to experience the environment on a 360° level. She has taken footage when everyone has already tied up their duties and activities (after midnight and in the first hours of day), to create a virtual footage for everyone in South Africa to experience and to preserve this material for generations to come

This footage will be made available in the next few weeks (and months), so prepare yourself and make time to visit SANAE IV and its surroundings through Anche’s camera lens. View these 360 images, but do not keep the knowledge to yourself, tell friends, families and colleagues about it. We can make South Africa and its people knowledgeable about our activities on the Antarctic Continent.

Another task that had to be done, was to photograph artefacts collected over the years and are displayed at SANAE IV.  An artefact can be seen as an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest. The word originate from Latin arte ‘by or using art’ and factum ‘something made’. There were many of these artefacts of early years but also of the past years; including paintings by School children sent to SANAE station.

In the next weeks make sure to follow our Facebook page and relive our visit with us. ALSA would also appreciate your help in identify the artefacts that are displayed and is looking forward to your comments on the posts of the artefacts. Hope you enjoy this journey of discovering with me and Anché.


Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 05 February 2019

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