KNP unveils new heritage site to honour Bakgalaka Tribe
LETABA - In a ground-breaking move, the Kruger National Park (KNP) has officially unveiled a mountain as a new heritage site, Tshikumbu, in order to preserve the Bakgalaka Tribe’s heritage.
Mount Tshikumbu joins the list of wonderful national cultural and heritage sites.
The Bakgalaka Tribe are descendants of Chief Tongogara, who is said to have lived there many years ago.
Chief Tongogara’s body was interred in the Tshikumbu caverns, where it is said he once resided. According to the monument that the KNP built in his honour and remembrance, Tongogara was a talented ironsmith who oversaw mining during his time.
During the official launch held last Tuesday at Letaba, the Kruger National Park’s spokesperson, Isaac Phaahla, said this heritage site will also offer visitors a chance to learn about the customs of the park’s native inhabitants.
This launch formed part of celebrating
Heritage and Tourism Month.
“It is normal for visitors in the KNP to come for the Big 5, the peace and solitude, but this time, we want to give them a glimpse into the past of the people who lived here in the years before us and coexisted peacefully with the animals we see today. This location is crucial, and future generations will be able to enjoy it. Due to its close vicinity to the Masorini Open-air Museum, this location will promote the preservation of culture and heritage while providing visitors with double benefits,” said Phaahla.
“It is imperative to preserve this location as a heritage site, because the chief was buried there and the mountain is revered as a shrine and a holy location.”
The spokesperson for the Bakgalaka Tribe, Samson Makwela Mokgalaka, said the family is very happy to get such recognition from the KNP. “We are very happy and overwhelmed. The KNP people engaged us, but we did not see this thing happening. I never believed that they could actually do something so prestigious, to give people a chance to learn about our history. This place will help people connect with the past and learn what we stand for,” he said.