Rec­on­cil­ing his­tory and roots

Mpondo seek to have his­tor­i­cal bat­tle zones de­clared world her­itage sites

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - SIPHE MACANDA SE­NIOR RE­PORTER [email protected]­patch.co.za

The Na­tional Her­itage Coun­cil wants the Mpondo land­scape, which has a rich his­tory of colo­nial re­sis­tance and re­volt, to re­ceive in­ter­na­tional recognition.

The coun­cil is in the process of ap­ply­ing to the United Nations Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Unesco) to have eight sites where bat­tles and protests of re­sis­tance be­tween the Mpondo tribe and au­thor­i­ties took place, to be de­clared world her­itage sites.

These in­clude, sites in Mbizana and Lusik- isiki and the Ingquza Mas­sacre site. The Mpondo Re­volt took place be­tween 1950 to 1962.

The coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Son­wa­bile Man­co­tywa said the ini­tia­tive was part of de­colonis­ing the his­tory of the area as its nar­ra­tive was told in a dis­torted way.

“There are un­sung he­roes there who were never men­tioned from ar­eas like Port St John’s.

“This re­volt also came to be known as iKhongo, named af­ter the lib­er­a­tion of Congo [DRC]. These peo­ple were in­spired by [slain DRC politi­cian Pa­trice] Lu­mumba, hence you will find songs there talk­ing about Congo. That is why the UN recog­nised the Ingquza re­bel­lion,” he said.

OR Tambo Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor No­makhosazana Meth wel­comed the move.

“Coun­tries grow their economies and tourism be­cause they are able to tell their own sto­ries.

“Here in OR Tambo we still have a weak­ness in telling our story, so we be­lieve that this move by the NHC will be fol­lowed by many projects that will en­able us to tap on our rich her­itage,” Meth said.

There are only 10 world her­itage sites in South Africa. They in­clude Robben Is­land, the Fos­sil Ho­minid Sites of South Africa, the Ma­pun­gubwe Cul­tural Land­scape and the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park.

Only coun­tries that have signed the world her­itage con­ven­tion, pledg­ing to pro­tect their nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage, can sub­mit nom­i­na­tion pro­pos­als for prop­er­ties on their ter­ri­tory to be con­sid­ered for in­clu­sion on Unesco’s world her­itage list.

The sites must be of out­stand­ing uni­ver­sal value and meet at least one out of 10 se­lec­tion cri­te­ria.

The site must rep­re­sent a mas­ter­piece of hu­man cre­ative ge­nius and bear a unique, or at least ex­cep­tional, tes­ti­mony to a cul­tural tra­di­tion, or to a civil­i­sa­tion which is liv­ing or which has dis­ap­peared.

“Our re­search has found that, this is an in­cred­i­ble world story. It can’t be re­duced to one dis­trict of Lusik­isiki. This is an Mpondo Re­volt, hence Mpondo peo­ple are known to be re­bel­lious. Unesco’s pro­to­col works with bench­mark­ing, so if you look at other world her­itage sites, there are sites that are far be­low this one,” Man­co­tywa said.

He said the re­volt was the only ru­ral re­volt that had such a far-reach­ing im­pact on the pol­i­tics of the coun­try at the time.

Pic­tures: SIKHO NT­SHOBANE

HON­OUR­ING HIS­TORY: Arts and cul­ture deputy minister Re­joice Mabudafhasi, Premier Phumulo Masualle, Arts and Cul­ture MEC Pemmy Ma­jo­d­ina, OR Tambo dis­trict mayor No­makhosazana Meth, Al­fred Nzo dis­trict mayor Eu­nice Dikoi, Ingquza Hill mayor Pat Mdingi were some of the dig­ni­taries who laid wreaths dur­ing the 56th com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Ingquza Hill Mas­sacre of the Mpondo Re­volt. A tra­di­tional group, right, at com­mem­o­ra­tion of Jub­hele Ngozi Mlun­jwa in Mkhum­beni vil­lage in Lusik­isiki.

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