Iqoqwana Initiative

Introduction to the Iqoqwana Initiative: Facilitated Self-Assessments of the Natural Science Collections.

Iqoqwana means “a small group” in isiZulu and isiXhosa, and is derived from the word Iqoqo which means “group” or “collection”. 

The flocking of birds, the swarming of insects and shoaling of fish. Many of us have seen this behavior – such a beautiful scene to experience. This occurs when individual animals gather into a group, to take a journey together. This offers feeding benefits and protection from predators. These groups display remarkable acts of coordination. This coordination is largely achieved when individuals adhere to principles of interaction which include autonomy, alignment, cohesion and shared leadership.

Iqoqwana Initiative signifies the coming together of small groups of people from different collections and institutions, working together for a common purpose: conducting these collections assessments with the purpose of learning and improving the state of the collections.

Initiative: A new action-learning journey which is ongoing and inspires people to take initiative a be forward looking.

Saving our Past, Securing our Future: The collections that we hold and are taking care of are a representation of the past that we are working at saving, in order for future generations to have knowledge that will help them know and understand their heritage, as well as develop new innovations and improvements for a better future.

Timeline: Sense-making Workshops

Iqoqwana Initiative sense-making workshop timeline

The hub team is hard at work, compiling the feedback reports from the collections assessments that were conducted from April, when you did the self-assessment, to July, when we completed the moderated assessments. You have been patiently waiting for the feedback, and we are happy to inform you that you are most likely to receive your feedback reports starting in mid-January 2024.

Following the release of the reports, regional Sense-making Workshops will be held, taking a similar format to the Orientation Workshops in that they will be contact sessions, and members of the Hub team, together with our organisational development facilitators, will travel to four provinces (Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal) during Jan/Feb 2024.

Why attend the workshops?

The aim of the workshops is to assist with making sense of what the outcomes of the feedback mean for each collection and institution, as well as for putting together a prioritised plan going forward. Which will get us closer to our shared goal of making South African natural science collections secure and well-curated.

Who should attend?

All role players involved in the care, management, and use of the collections are requested to attend:

  • Management personnel
  • Director(s)
  • Scientists
  • Curators
  • Collections managers
  • Auxiliary services officers
  • Collections attendants and technicians
  • Preparators
  • Data management staff
  • And those we haven’t mentioned above

Have a look at the Sense-making Workshop timeline attached on the left.

Timeline/Schedule: Moderated Assessments

Self-Assessment Questionnaire

NSCF Collection Assessment

Click on the button below to access the Collection Assessment Questionaire

Timeline: Self-Assessments

Timeline: Orientation Workshops


Self-Assessments | Iqoqwana Initiative

We would like to express our appreciation to the NSCF Community for fully participating and orientating yourselves to the Iqoqwana process and journey, during the regional orientation workshops that took place from 8-28 March 2023.

We took note of all your suggestions and have taken them into consideration, in further planning for the collection assessments.

Virtual Orientation Workshop

Considering the importance of these orientation workshops, we will be hosting a virtual session for those individuals that were unable to attend the physical orientation workshops in their respective regions.


Date: Wednesday, 5 April 2023

Time: 09h30-12h30

Platform: Zoom

RSVP to Shanelle Ribeiro at You will receive the meeting link after you RSVP.

Iqoqwana Initiative Journey

As indicated before, we will have different stages in this learning journey:

  • Orientation Workshops
  • Self-Assessments
  • Moderated Assessments
  • Sense-making Workshops

We have completed the first stage (orientation workshops), and are now busy with the self-assessments. In the self-assessments, you are required to conduct an assessment of your collections, by completing the NSCF Collection Assessment Questionnaire and submitting it by the due date. See the due dates below for the different regions.

Collections Assessments List of Documents

Assessment of certain documents will be done off-site by the moderating team and you are required to submit electronic versions of these documents to the NSCF Google Drive by the self-assessment deadline. Instructions for submission of documents will follow.

Click here to open the list of documents

Institutions are to submit their Self-Assessments by…

30 April 2023: Gauteng and Northern Cape

  • SANBI National Herbarium
  • Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
  • ARC Plant Health and Protection
  • Wits CE Moss Herbarium
  • ARC Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases
  • Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute
  • UP HGWJ Schweickerdt Herbarium
  • McGregor Museum


6 May 2023: Eastern Cape and Western Cape

  • SANBI Compton Herbarium
  • Iziko Museum
  • UCT Bolus Herbarium
  • South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
  • Albany Museum
  • Amathole Museum
  • East London Museum
  • Bayworld/ Port Elizabeth Museum


15 May 2023: KwaZulu-Natal

  • KwaZulu-Natal Museum
  • UKZN Bews Herbarium
  • SANBI KZN Herbarium
  • Durban Natural Science Museum

Collection Assessment Questionnaire Reminders

  • Plan time for your self-assessment…you will not be able to complete it in a day or two.
  • Use laptops and tablets to easily move with the questionnaire
  • Sign into Google/Gmail if you have it, before accessing and completing the questionnaire for the self-assessment
  • If sharing a computer you have to submit one assessment before starting the next
  • Refer back to the manual if needed
  • Ensure that this is a participative, action learning, and capacity development activity, involving the whole team
  • When you have submitted your self-assessment, click ‘Edit your response’ and bookmark the page, so you can edit your responses later.
  • Be ready for the moderated assessments in May & June 2023
  • After the moderation of your self-assessment you will receive an individual report per collection which will be discussed and unpacked at the sense-making workshops in August.

For technical support, contact:

Click here to open the Collection Assessment Questionnaire

More information may be found on Iqoqwana Initiative webpage here. For further enquiries about the virtual workshop please contact Shanelle at

Visit the Iqoqwana Initiative webpage for all collections assessment-related information:

Let us profile YOU | Iqoqwana Initiative

With the collections assessments coming up, and the orientation workshops just a few days away, we would like to profile the people in the collections. The people that are hard at work, making sure that our precious collections are in the best state. The people that will be conducting the assessments and ensuring they are a success.

The profiles will be published as articles on the NSCF mailing list and website, and shared on all social media platforms.

We want to know:

  • What’s your name and position, at what institution?
  • What does your day-to-day look like?
  • What role do you play in the securing of collections?
  • What makes collections important/valuable, to you?
  • What has been your biggest learning since the beginning of the collection management course up until now (if you have been attending the course or following it)?
  • What have you learnt about yourself?
  • How does the knowledge that you have gained impact on your future and goals, and those of your institution?
  • What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming collections assessments?
  • What does the Iqoqwana phenomenon mean to you, personally?
  • What challenges are you anticipating to be met with, during the collections assessments process?
  • What is that one specific thing or activity that you are doing to prepare yourself?
  • What message do you have for colleagues in the NSCF Network?

How to participate:
Answer the questions above (you don’t have to answer all of them) and send them together with a picture of you working in the collection.

How to submit your profile:

Regional Information | Orientation Workshops

Click here for the PDF version


Counting down to the Self-Assessment Submissions