Media Statement by Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport

Posted by Peter on Thu September 25, 2014 in Media Releases.

Western Cape Government Nominates Sites for UNESCO World Heritage Status

It is my pleasure to announce this afternoon that the Western Cape Government has, along with Heritage Western Cape, made an application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to declare a series of our sites as World Heritage Sites.

These sites include Blombos (BBC), Border Cave (BC), Diepkloof (DKF), Klasies River (KR), Pinnacle Point (PP), Sibudu Cave (SC) and comparable sites relating to the emergence of modern humans.

Three of these sites are in the Western Cape and they are the Pinnacle Point Site Complex, Diepkloof Rock Shelter and Blombos Cave.

When these sites are looked at collectively, they tell the story of the origins of humankind. They display the very first evidence of cognitive human development, early nuclear family life, art and human values associated with modern humans today.

They are of significance in celebrating and embracing our heritage because they bear testimony to once widely practiced cultural traditions which have been now lost.

Archeologists believe that these sites are of significance to the origin of all modern people. They tell a story of a journey of humankind that can be traced back as early as 200 000 years ago. South Africa has the potential to tell this story to the world and that is why we, as a government, believe that this nomination is unique and critical.

This serial nomination already features on UNESCO’s tentative list of heritage sites with outstanding universal value and we believe that it has a strong chance of being awarded World Heritage Site status because no comparable sites of this nature feature on the World Heritage List.

Once a site is on the tentative list, a comprehensive process of collation of data and compilation of supporting evidence needs to take place. This is not only time consuming but it is a costly process that involves various stakeholders. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has initiated this process and we estimate that we would have completed our work by 2016. Because a country can only make one nomination of this kind in a year, 2016 is the aim as it will coincide with the conclusion of our research.

The fact that these sites are recognized and have been placed on the tentative list is reason for us to proud of the work we have done thus far. We look forward to the next two years as we conclude this process of our nomination.

South Africa is already home to eight World Heritage Sites. This status is prestigious and has obvious gains like placing the Western Cape on a world large pedestal for potential growth in our tourism industry.


Conclusion

During this month of September, the Western Cape Government achieved a tremendous amount that we all can be proud of. It has been my aim to ensure that the celebration of Heritage Day and month is not just limited to the festivities that happen annually.

That is why my department and I have worked hard so that the sites that are worthy of protection according to the National Heritage Resources Act are afforded such and that inroads are made to putting South Africa on the map for the ninth time with the recognition of the magnificent comparable sites situated on South Africa’s shoreline. This nomination has the potential to change the way in which human development is studied and our county will be right in the centre of such ground breaking archaeological findings.

READ Dr Nomafrench Mbombo's FULL MEDIA STATEMENT HERE