SA gets ninth World Heritage Site

Inscribed as the ninth World Heritage Site in South Africa, the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape has been added to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) prestigious list of sites.

The area, which has now been recognised by UNESCO as a site of universal value, covers the entire Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and is part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park bordering Botswana and Namibia.

The ‡Khomani and related San people are the ancestors of the entire human race. They descend directly from an ancient group of people who inhabited Southern Africa about 150 000 years ago.

"This exciting announcement brings with it prospects of development for South Africa and our neighbours, but it has global significance that extends far beyond our region," said Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa.

She said the recognition will focus world attention on this iconic site and its role in the development of modern humans, adding that this is where all humans came from.

"We join our colleagues in the Department of Environmental Affairs in welcoming this global recognition of our people and our cultural heritage. Minister Edna Molewa and her team are the official custodians of the site, but this achievement belongs to all the people of South Africa. 

"This is the heritage that our entire nation should treasure and preserve. We will take a whole of government approach to ensure that all development takes into account the need to protect and preserve this unique environment, the cultural practices of the local people, and all the heritage aspects of this amazing cultural landscape," Minister Xasa said.

She said following the announcement, South Africa can be sure that the benefits of tourism development in the region will make a big difference in the lives of the local communities in the future.

The announcement also opens further possibilities to explore the integrated development of tourism in the Southern African region, especially with neighbouring countries of Namibia and Botswana. The interest in this site is likely to spread further north through the African continent.

“We are always willing to work with our African counterparts to link and co-develop cultural and heritage products for the benefit of regional tourism, which makes a significant contribution to many economies on the continent.

"We congratulate our counterparts in Angola and Eritrea for the simultaneous inscription of UNESCO sites in their countries. These announcements once again demonstrate the unique cultural and heritage tourism assets we have in Africa. We must work together to convert these assets into economic and social benefits, without negatively impacting on the environment, the culture and the dignity of people past and present."

The Minister applauded the local communities in the area for their efforts to preserve their culture. She said this acknowledgement of the universal significance of the site will formalise and consolidate the continued preservation of ancient cultural practices and traditions.

‡Khomani Cultural Landscape

The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape is associated with a unique culture which goes back to the Stone Age.

The landscape has remained relatively unchanged since humans were hunter-gatherers, and is managed by South African National Parks.

World heritage sites

The other eight world heritage sites in South Africa are the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Vredefort Dome, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Robben Island Museum, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas. – SAnews.gov.za