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17 February 2020
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa welcomed Friday’s declaration of Mapungubwe as a World Heritage Site as “opportune” just before the gathering of African leaders in Maputo for the African Union summit.
“The history of Mapungubwe will play a key role in the African Renaissance and the rewriting of Southern African history. Slowly but surely, the richness of South Africa’s past is occupying the global agenda” said Moosa.
The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape was approved to be added to the World Heritage List at the 27th session of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (Unesco) World Heritage Committee in Paris.
Mapungubwe is situated at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers in the Limpopo Province.
The area includes the archaelogical sites of Schroda, K2 and Mapungubwe.
These were successive capitals of the Mapungubwe civilisation between about 900 and 1290 AD and were the beginning of the well-known Zimbabwe culture that founded Greater Zimbabwe.
The kingdom was a sophisticated, class-based society built on the wealth generated by controlling trade into the Indian Ocean trade network.
At its peak there were probably 5 000 people living at Mapungubwe, and it has been called the “First Southern African Kingdom”.
Mapungubwe is also an important natural site and a core area of the Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
The World Heritage Sites List now has 754 sites – 149 are natural, 582 are cultural and 23 mixed, while another 23 are regarded as sites of outstanding universal value.
Moosa said local tourism will benefit from increased economic activity in the area.