Media Release: Kruger National Park unveils the Phabeni Interpretive Centre for tourists
17 May 2017
The South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers officially handed-over the Phabeni Interpretive Centre to Kruger National Park Management yesterday, 16 May 2017 at the Albasini Ruins cultural heritage site. The centre, which is found at Phabeni Gate, boasts the newly designed display structure as well as the re-fenced Albasini Ruins and the two grave sites; which reveal interesting history of people who stayed and worked in the Phabeni area in the past.
“KNP is best known for its rich biodiversity such as animals, plants and vast wilderness, however what many people do not know is that the Park also boasts more than 627 cultural heritage and historical sites and only a few of them, including the Albasini Ruins where we are unveiling the centre today are open to the public”, said the Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips at the event.
Phillips recognized the families of the Nkuna and Mavundla who stayed in the area in the past and have family members who were buried in the Phabeni area. 94 year old Willie Nkuna, one of the living and original family members of the Nkuna clan who stayed at the site and is a KNP retired Ranger – Lance Corporal, was present at the handover. He heard how his family and that of the Mavundla were praised for their contribution to the rich history in the Centre.
“Cultural heritage interpretation has taken the front seat in the 2022 Responsible Tourism Strategy and Phabeni Interpretive Centre is an example of what needs to be done as interpretation has been identified as one of the areas which need improvement in the organization. There is oral history which has been recorded by our People and Conservation Department, and we will continue to engage with people like Willie Nkuna as they hold the Park’s cultural and historical information (good or bad) which needs to be narrated and interpreted, for the benefit of everybody including the future generation.
Phillips also praised the SANParks Honorary Rangers for the role they played in creating the centre as it provides a platform for the celebration of the lives of those unsung heroes whilst revealing interesting history of the area. “Your work as the SANParks Honorary Rangers has not ended and we are still going to approach you for assistance; as there is still a lot of work which needs to be done in terms of building similar structures throughout the Park”, concluded Phillips.
- The Phabeni Interpretive Centre is made up of the Albasini Ruins, the grave sites, the thatched hut (rondavel) displaying Albasini data and artefacts, and the new display structure that has been built. It forms part of the historical and cultural sites in the Park open to the public.
- The South African National Parks Honorary Rangers (East Rand Region) spent 500 man hours, drove over 2000km and also made funding of R125 000 available to build the centre.
- The Region picked up the project in January 2015, when the late Kobus Hough, the then chairperson of the East Rand region got the project assigned to the Region. As the East Rand region was the custodian of the Phabeni Gate maintenance, the Region saw it as a great opportunity to get involved in interpretation structured projects.
- The tasks the SANParks Honorary Rangers undertook at the site were:
- Re-fenced the Albasini Ruins and the grave sites at the Interpretation Site.
- Cordoned off two of the grave sites behind the Phabeni Gate buildings.
- Built the pedestrian control fence at the Phabeni Gate
- Cleaned-up the ruins and the site in general.
- Designed and built the display structure including flooring.
- Removed the bees from the thatched hut.
- Replaced the bench and table sets on site.
- The SANParks Honorary Rangers will maintain the site on a regular basis, and manage improvements and additions whenever there is a need.
Cutting the ribbon for the unveiling of the Phabeni Interpretive Centre is KNP Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips (brown cap). With him in the middle are the original inhabitants of the Phabeni area Retired Ranger - Lance Corporal Willie Nkuna (blue blazer), his wife maNkuna (brown jersey), also maMavundla who is wife to the late Samuel Mavundla whose grave can be seen at the unveiled site and the National Executive Committee Chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers, Louis Lemmer (on the right).
The East Rand Region Honorary Ranger, Ralph Davey expresses his appreciation for Lance Corporal Willie Nkuna, for his contribution to the history of the Phabeni Interpretive Centre.
The Nkuna and Mavundla families take a tour on the new display structure.
About SANParks Honorary Rangers
SANParks Honorary Rangers is the official volunteer organization of SANParks and the preferred channel for public donations. This ensures that 100% of funds raised reach the target for which the money is intended. For more information on the Honorary Rangers, please visit www.sanparksvolunteers.org or Facebook@SANParksHonoraryRangers.
Issued jointly by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) - Kruger National Park: Communications & Marketing and the SANParks Honorary Rangers
SANParks Acting Head of Communications
Tel: 013 735 4363/012 426 5170, cell: 082 807 3919