The house of reclusive artist Helen Martins, graves of 20th century political activists, the hilltop kingdom of Mapungubwe, fossil sites associated with human evolution and the emergence of modern man, Robben Island and historic wine farms. These are but some of the nearly seventy sites that mirror South Africa as a nation. The sites constitute the apex of the national estate – heritage sites that are so exceptional that they are of special national significance.
Heritage Monitoring Project
The aim of the annual endangered heritage campaign run by the Heritage Monitoring Project is to raise awareness of South Africa’s most at risk sites. While the call for nominations for the 2018 campaign is issued this week (click here to view), we asked site champions and community activists for updates on previously nominated sites. We also analysed comments posted by community members to site threads on the Heritage Portal.
The Most Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites campaign is an initiative of the Heritage Monitoring Project (HMP) to identify and raise awareness of cultural heritage sites that are at significant risk from natural or human made forces.
2017 has not been a good year for heritage in South Africa. From fires in the Western Cape that claimed the 1792 Du Toit Manor House in Paarl, among others, to the theft of the Thulamela gold collection at the Kruger National Park in December 2016 (only made public knowledge in June this year), the losses have been significant.
Experts call the disappearance of gold artefacts ‘colossal’, ‘a travesty’ and ‘serious breach of security on the part of SANParks’. The Heritage Monitoring Project reports on the theft of items from the Thulamela collection which recently came to light – months after the incident took place.
In September 2016, the Heritage Monitoring Project ran a campaign to draw attention to endangered heritage sites across South Africa. The result was a top ten list as well a long list that could be tracked over time. We recently put out a call for updates and have updated the relevant tracking threads hosted on The Heritage Portal (click here to view).