Little-known San paintings in western Zimbabwe publicised

News24 Correspondent

Harare - Reports of the "discovery" of ancient San paintings in western Zimbabwe aroused interest this week, although some locals insisted the rock art sites had been known about for a long time.

Davy Ndlovu of the Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust, an organisation that supports the San community in Zimbabwe, said the paintings were in two sites in the Tsholotsho North area.

"They were known to the local community, what we are doing is just bringing them to public knowledge," he confirmed in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Ndlovu was quoted by Radio Dialogue earlier this week as saying that some of the paintings "show the great Queen of the San and her men [who] met and interacted with the Ndebele King Mzilikazi on his arrival in Zimbabwe".

Some Zimbabweans reacted angrily this week on social media to reports the rock art had only just been "discovered", saying that people living in the area had known about these paintings for a long time.

"It's very wrong, 'discover' is the wrong word to use here, they [should] give credit to the local people, work with them to put that publicity together," wrote one man in a post to Facebook.

Ndlovu said there were only around 2 500 people in Zimbabwe who identified themselves as San.

"We are thinking that these paintings are going to directly link the San in Tsholotsho and it is going to maybe assist us in understanding more of their cultural heritage and their past history," he said.

San paintings are found in other areas of Zimbabwe, including in the Matopos National Park in southern Zimbabwe and near Marondera, about 70km east of the capital Harare. The Malilangwe Trust, which borders on the Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe, says it has 82 San rock art sites. San paintings in Zimbabwe can be between 700 and 2 000-years-old.
Ndlovu said the age of the Tsholotsho paintings had not yet been determined.