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In support of this Urban Leadership Vision and in specific response to pressing local and global issues involving environmental sustainability and earth care, Marygrove has embarked on a project to host Nomkhubulwane (Nom-koo-bull-WAH-nee, Zulu for Mother Earth), an elephant sculpture created by South African sculptor Andries Botha. This life-size sculpture, made of galvanized steel and recycled truck tires, is traveling around the world to raise awareness about how people can creatively address issues caused by the expanding human ecological footprint. Nomkhubulwane is one of 17 elephants on display globally by the Human Elephant Foundation (


“The world requires massive collaboration to shift our human consciousness into a more sustainable relationship with the earth. The elephant is strong, enormously powerful, yet hugely vulnerable in its relationship to humans. It offers a poignant and timely metaphor to contemplate issues of coexistence and how we must now live. What will we do to change how we live? What will accelerate our commitment to create a more sustainable world? I am hoping Nomkhubulwane will inspire many more people to ask and address these questions.”

-- Andries Botha, creator, Nomkhubulwane


Nomkhubulwane will “migrate” to Detroit from Toronto, at the Detroit-Windsor border on Friday, Oct. 8 and will be at Marygrove College for the first week of its stay before moving to Detroit’s Cultural Center, Oct. 20 - Nov. 1, 2010.

This multi-faceted educational project will consist of the following:

  • During Marygrove’s hosting of the 2010 Bioneers Conference in Detroit, over 300 children from 20-30 area elementary, middle and high schools will participate in projects on the Marygrove College campus about how they can help care for “Mother Earth.” Their education will be based on lesson plans and activities developed for The Human Elephant Foundation by the Civic Knowledge Project at the University of Chicago.

    Subject matter will include:

    • “Elephants and “Emotion,”

    • “The Three Rs: Recycle, Reduce & Reuse,”

    • “Making Better Food Decisions,”

    • “Soil Painting,”

    • “Elephants and Trauma,”

    • “Environmental Terms & Crossword Puzzle,” and

    • “How We Perceive the World.”

    • “Biodiversity and Me,”

  • Marygrove College’s Beyond Words Gallery will display student works related to the project. The Gallery will also have an exhibit that further explains the project, its purpose and the migration tour.
  • Once the sculpture travels to Detroit’s Cultural Center, Marygrove will continue to be involved by partnering with other institutions on educational projects that engage area youth in Nomkhubulwane’s message.

“Elephants are known to have very sophisticated social structures and carry a collective memory that increases chances for survival in challenging conditions. Nomkhubulwane challenges humans to tap into their own collective memory and intrinsic dependence on and relationship to nature.”

--Vance G. Martin, president, WILD Foundation





Oct. 8:
Nomkhubulwane will be installedo on the Marygrove College Campus.

Oct. 9
IMD and Kids College Celebration
Liberal Arts Building at Noon
Join the Institute of Music and Dance in celebrating Nomkhubulwane's arrival in Detroit with songs, dance and poetry.

Oct. 11-14, 18-19
Local School Participation and Campus Tours
20 area schools will create baby elephant sculptures. the schools will be involved in conversation around conservation, recycling and sustainability. Tours can be scheduled to view the exhibit and Nomkhubulwane.


Oct. 13:
Welcome Ceremony with music and dance including the Marygrove College community and students from local area schools.
There will be a tour of the Beyond Words Gallery.

Oct. 11 - Nov. 1
Nomkhubulwane's Northern Migration: The Link Between Human and Elephant Exhibit
The exhibit will be in the Beyond Words Gallery.
Opening Reception: Oct. 15, 5 - 7 p.m.; Beyond Words Gallery
Learn more about Nomkhubulwane's journeys throughout the world. The exhibition consists of photos, diagrams and text to further introduce and explain her migration.

Oct. 15 -17:
Beginning of the Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit Conference.
Over 150 students will participate in Young Bioneers Day, Oct.15, and make a commitment to sustainability in a ceremony with Nomkhubulwane.

Oct. 20 – Nov. 1:
Nomkhubulwane will be installed at the Charles H. Wright Museum at Detroit’s Cultural Center as part of a collaboration among Cultural Center institutions.
Plans are in progress.