Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site
History of the Park
What makes Mapungubwe a World Heritage Site and a place of pilgrimage for Africans is the amazing history of Mapungubwe Hill and its surroundings. The people that inhabited this area between 900 and 1270 AD were cattle and crop farmers who extensively participated in the Indian Ocean trade with Egypt, India and China. Their wealth and the physical division between the sacred leader and the commoners were a first for Southern Africa – the disbanding of the kingdom still puzzles scientists.
Mapungubwe also speaks of earlier times of human habitation. The San and their forebears roamed the area for the last 5.000 years. They left over 150 (documented) rock art sites in the Limpopo/Shashe confluence area, a rich library of painted and engraved images that provide insight into the world and beliefs of these hunter-gatherers. Depiction of kudus is very typical for the rock art shelters in this area.
From the rediscovery of Mapungubwe in 1932 to the Battle of Dongola – the recent history that ultimately led to the proclamation of the park is intriguing. The battle for example was a public and parliamentary debate which in 1947 culminated in a protected area of 92.000 hectares. A year later the Nationalist Party won the elections and disbanded the park. With the proclamation of Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site history is now full circle.