Mapungubwe Heritage Route Launched

Musina - The Limpopo provincial government will invest more than R2 million towards the completion of the Mapungubwe Museum and Interpretation Centre.

The announcement was made during the launch of the Greater Mapungubwe Heritage Route at the Mapungubwe National Park near Musina over the weekend.

"The provincial government will inject more than R2 million to complete the Mapungubwe Museum and Interpretation Centre in the next financial year. Besides preserving culture and artefacts, the move is also aimed at promoting tourism in the province," said Premier Cassel Mathale.

Mathale said he wanted researchers and scholars to do their archaeological research into Mapungubwe under one roof.

"In the past, some archaeological artefacts of Mapungubwe were kept at Wits University centre and Pretoria University and our research students were forced to travel long distances," he explained.

The opening of the Greater Mapungubwe Heritage Route was part of the 2012 Vhembe Carnival where the Vhembe district municipality welcomed visitors from Zimbabwe and Botswana to tour the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site, the sacred Lake Fundudzi and Dzata Museum among others.

Those in attendance included Limpopo Tourism and Agency (LTA) acting chief executive Fixon Hlungwani, Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC Pinkie Kekana, national parliamentary Chief Whip Dr Mathole Motshekga, Vhembe district mayor Tshitereke Matibe and traditional leaders.

Hlungwani said: "This is billed to be a major tourism draw card to the province and will boost Limpopo's domestic tourism. The major boost to us is our strategic location as we are a gateway to other parts of the continent and the success of the initiative will be for the benefit of the entire country."

The visitors also viewed a documentary on the origins of Mapungubwe and enjoyed an exhibition of some of the items kept in the museum, including a copy of the famous gold rhino statue, gold fragments, copper, iron and animal bones among others.

The Mapungubwe Museum and Interpretation Centre was officially opened on 10 September this year by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Her department paid for the building of the centre with the help of the Public Works Department's Expanded Public Works Programme.

Some of the tourism attractions along the Greater Mapungubwe Heritage Route include the sacred forest of Thatwe Vonde, Lake Fundudzi and the Dzata ruins near Thohoyandou, as well as the Big Tree.

The Mapungubwe National Park is not only a game reserve, but is also home to the archaeological treasure of Mapungubwe, a kingdom predating that of Great Zimbabwe.

Mapungubwe was the base of a trading empire that traded with the people of China, India, Egypt and Persia, exchanging ivory, gold around the year 1200.

It was one of 24 sites around the world added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2004. -

Silas Nduvheni