Meet the team

ANDRÉ

EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SPECIALIST

André Croucamp has been working as an educational media developer for more than 30 years. He is Totem's learning design specialist, workshop facilitator, and helps to conceptualise, research, and write exhibition text. His favourite Totem project ever has been the Moruleng Cultural Precinct, especially the room on traditional knowledge, because it challenges colonial methodologies for representing culture in museums. It celebrates the ingenuity of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in southern Africa in a 21st century design that privileges the voice of the people who are the custodians of that knowledge, language, and values. André loves to find ways of making complex information simpler and accessible so that it can empower people to take control of their lives by learning from the past, bearing deliberate witness to the present and imagining possible futures. He likes to think of museums as spaces to think in, stimulating conversations in our communities, and opening new possibilities. André’s totem is a virus because it spreads information so efficiently, using the mechanisms of the systems that are already there.

Amanda

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

Amanda Xulu has worked at Totem Media as a project coordinator, and creative project manager for four years. She is currently Totem's social media manager and forms part of the project management office. Her favourite Totem project ever has been The Story of Melusi & Khethiwe, as it was the first time Totem did a historical graphic novel about South Africa’s liberation. She was thrilled to witness a script come to life through exciting illustrations. Amanda loves to constantly listen to music as she finds it inspires her thinking processes and the work that she does. One day she hopes to have a travelling exhibition about the life and legacy of Lilian Ngoyi – her personal hero – hosted at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History. Her totem is an owl because her mind is most active at night! She also identifies with the owl as a symbol of knowledge and independent thinking, which she values highly.

BEA

WRITER

Bea Roberts has been working as a researcher and writer for some thirty years. She develops content and narratives for Totem Media's historical exhibitions. Her favourite Totem project ever is the international solidarity exhibitions at Liliesleaf – not only because she gets to interview so many amazing stalwarts of the struggle, and travel around Southern Africa and Europe, but because it gives her the opportunity to tell wonderful, little known stories of international support for the liberation struggle. She hopes that she will live to experience a flourishing heritage sector in South Africa, with well-funded institutions and hundreds of people visiting museums on a daily basis. Her totem is a Scrabble tile because her passion is working with words to create beautiful stories.

FRANCIS

CHAIRman

Francis Gerard has been working as a creator for more years than he can count. He is Totem Media's founder. His favourite Totem project ever has been the development of the Origins Centre because the people who joined him to realise the museum are still the core team at Totem Media. He loves to watch the Totem team develop into areas that are original and thought-provoking. One day, Francis hopes to see Totem Media's work shown outside of Africa.

GUY

FILMMAKER

Guy Spiller has been working as a film editor, and later film director, for 37 years. Guy is Totem’s filmmaker. His favourite Totem project ever has been Origins Centre, because they filmed in amazing locations like the Kalahari and Karoo in order to explore and make films about the evolution of modern humans and their art. He loves to make films about the past that have valuable lessons for the present. One day he hopes to see a South Africa with a vibrant and sustainable heritage sector. Guy's totem is a secretary bird to which he feels not only a physical resemblance, but also a respect for its keen powers of observation, which it uses to dispose of snakes, both real and metaphorical.

IVY

ARCHIVIST & RESEARCHER

Ivy Chitambo has worked as an archivist as part of the Liliesleaf Legacy Programme, for the last five years. Before formally joining the team in 2022, she has worked with Totem Media on various archive projects aimed at the digitisation, conservation, and preservation of historical material collections linked to South Africa’s liberation struggle in the hope of creating further access to these rich historical resources. Ivy’s totem represents ever-transforming sources of knowledge: it serves as a reminder to stay in the pursuit of knowledge and serves as encouragement to continue exploring innovative ways of creating access, so that others can do the same. Apart from the online exhibition Women in the Struggle: 1950-1965, her favourite Totem project is Becoming Worthy Ancestors, an archive workshop curated for high school learners, which gives them an opportunity to interact with their history whilst creating space for project-based learning, a concept that resonates with Ivy’s totem.

MOTSHEGWA

PUBLIC RELATIONS LIAISON

Motshegwa Mgeyane has occasionally worked with Totem over the years but joined the Totem Media team in a more formal sense in 2020, right in the middle of lockdown, to help with feasibility studies, collections, and stakeholder engagement. Motshegwa loves to facilitate, inform, plan, chat and make things happen. This has inspired her to take on the task of marketing Totem, because she believes there are huge possibilities to engage in work that holds real meaning. Her totem is a kudu because she springs into action to enable others, offering guidance and energy to make things happen. Rooted as a Morolong, Tholo (Kudu) is also her family totem.

SAM

CEO

Samantha Horowitz has been working as producer of museums, cultural precincts, exhibitions, documentaries, education outreach programmes, comics, workshops, and online experiences for over 10 years now. Formally Totem's project manager, Samantha is now looking to help grow Totem and the footprint of the transformative work Totem does. Her favourite project ever has been The Story of the Oil Rivers because the client had the courage to share an honest account of the legacy of corruption and theft in Nigeria from the slave trade to palm oil to current day oil trade and oligarchies. Sam loves that young people are passionate about the world around them and one day hopes that these young people will help grow Totem's impact locally and globally. Her Totem is a dancer as it is through movement with intent yet flexibility that we can make for change. And we can all do with dancing more.