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Media Release: Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site media briefing

03 December 2008

The area now known as the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site has been occupied by diverse groups over time immemorial. Between about 900 and 1 300 it was the centre of the first powerful African kingdom in Southern Africa that laid the foundation for subsequent class-based settlements in the region. The landscape retains evidence of the lives, values and belief systems of those who have inhabited it; the interactions between them and others; and with the environment.

South African National Parks (SANParks) is in the process of developing a state of the art Interpretive Centre complex to tell the story of the area from the earliest times to the present. The multi-layered story of Mapungubwe will be told in an exhibition that makes use of oral accounts by various informants including local community members, historians, archaeologists and other researchers etc and; through the display of some of the priceless heritage objects that have been excavated from the site; and through links created to the many recorded settlement and rock art sites within the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site.

The complex includes a Day Visitor Facility designed to accommodate cultural events and celebrations by communities who have a historical or spiritual association with the site, while the Interpretive Centre incorporates the display area, lecture room, restaurant and small linked to an outside archaeological route to accommodate the thousands of visiting school children and tourists.

Landmark on the road between Alldays and Musina

The construction of the R17 million Interpretive Complex is due for completion in April 2009. Fast becoming a landmark on the road between Alldays and Musina, the building traverses a small incline, taking visitors to the top of a flat hill from where they can look over the plains to Mapungubwe hill some 2km away. Designed as an extension to the environment, the stone clad vaults and domed roofs are constructed using a 600 year old Timbrel vaulting technique which has provided innovative employment and training opportunities for people from communities in Musina and the Blouberg Municipality.

Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is part of the developing Transfrontier Park that includes neighbouring sites in Botswana and Zimbabwe. The development of the Interpretive Centre at Mapungubwe makes it possible to explore our historic links with others in the region and opens up many new avenues for co-operation.

The development of this complex has been made possible through the Social Responsibility Programme of the Department of Environmenta Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) - which is part the Expanded Public Works Programme.

SANParks consider the development and construction of the Interpretive Centre to be a highlight of the development of this National Park and World heritage Centre and is proud to announce that this project that will be officially opened on the 24th September 2009.

Issued by: Cassius Selala: Regional Communications Officer, South African National Parks, tel: (012) 426-5195 or 078 223 6682

Enquiries: Mr. Tshimangadzo Nemaheni, Mapungubwe Park Manager, South African National Parks, tel: (015) 534 2594 or 083 629 9093