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
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.
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).
Every time South Africa loses a heritage site, a part of our history and our culture is lost, as well as the possibility of understanding something new about our past. South Africa’s top ten most endangered sites speak of the fragility of our shared national heritage.
Last week The Monitoring Project broke the news that six sites have been removed from South Africa’s tentative world heritage list. In follow up we spoke to a number of people involved in the preparation of tentative lists and site nominations regarding the changes and what they mean for site conservation. We also received feedback from a variety of stakeholders working on site nominations at a local level. We provide a summary of responses received.
In what has come as a complete shock to many in the local heritage community, six local sites have quietly been removed from the country’s tentative World Heritage Site list. Jacques Stoltz from the Heritage Monitoring Project investigates. [Originally published 24 July 2015]
The sites in question are: