“The KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative is an open heritage portal aimed at preserving and promoting KwaZulu-Natal’s rich heritage.”
The KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative is a call to arms for all citizens in the province and the country to actively participate in preserving a broad spectrum of its rich heritage. It’s an awareness that everyone can contribute to creating an environment that can help build a greater understanding of “who we are” and how we are united, notwithstanding our diverse cultures. If we can see, share and understand each other’s history, it will make us resilient and united as a nation. In a sense heritage is the nucleus that draws us together.
Mandate and Vision
“To digitally preserve and capture both the documentary and unrecorded heritage of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal for the benefit of the present and future generations” and to “be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of the Province”.
KwaZulu-Natal has an extensive history and considerable wealth of heritage, which can be traced back to the San communities who created the multitude of rock art paintings in the Drakensberg Mountains, leading up to the contemporary history of the Liberation Movement.
The Drakensberg Mountain Range holds the most significant collection of San paintings in the world with an estimated number of about 40000 dating back as far as 2400 years. The Liberation Movement itself has deep roots in KwaZulu-Natal with countless historic liberation events having taken place within its borders.
Numerous private and government organizations have already commenced preserving some of the heritage legacy in the Province, but this has happened on a narrowly focused scale and on a limited level.
According to the Provincial Archives, mass data have not formally been logged since the 1980’s due to unavailable space in the archives. This is however in the process of changing with the KZN Executive Council agreeing to provide funding over the MTEF to build a much needed Archives Repository. The KZNDAC is planning to significantly reduce the shortcomings of the past in the Archives by 2019. “Our valuable heritage from the past and records from the dawn of our democracy will now be afforded space for preservation and safe keeping for generations to come” – KZN Arts & Culture budget vote 16 2016/2017, Pg 27. The Provincial Archives are also intensifying it’s Repatriation programme to return documents pertaining to KZN History that are held in foreign archives, this will be extensively pursued in 2016/2017. The Archives will also be investing a substantial number of resources in its Oral History unit to document the oral testimonies of our marginalized history, culture and indigenous knowledge systems.
It is estimated (2014) that the Provincial museum services mainly consist of 70% Colonial era artefacts with the exception of Zulu crafts and military artefacts. This is also in the process of changing with Museum Services driving a process of making the museums in the province more transformed and reflective of our rich history.
The private sector is also playing a significant roll in preserving our heritage, but is severely limited by available resources and funding.
This creates an environment where the fate of our heritage is left unprotected. As matters stand, we are running the risk of losing a large portion of our heritage that defines our early democracy. In 50 years from now when South Africans as a nation look back on their heritage, there will be significant limitations in the KwaZulu-Natal narrative.
In order to safeguard the heritage legacy of the Province, the KwaZulu-Natal Government, along with industry stakeholders, have established the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative (KZNHPI).
The KZNHPI has been established inside the Department Arts & Culture, but collectively also works with all other departments and private stakeholders in the province in order to achieve its’ goal of preserving our heritage.
The KZNHPI will create a unique and everlasting digitized record of all accumulated KwaZulu-Natal heritage from the past together with the preservation and recording of our current heritage for future generations.
This information is to be made available on an online interactive website (kznheritage.org – see: section 7) which is vibrant with photographs, videos, audio, text and oral recordings, accompanied with content which will appeal to all sections of our society for purposes ranging from general interest to in-depth research.
Linked to the initiative is the establishment of a “Green Plaque” sub programme, which will provide recognizable markers in the form of engraved plaques to identify sites of heritage interest. By highlighting these locations and providing background information on the events, it not only benefits the historical preservation of these sites but also acts as a catalyst for tourism interest of these locations. By unlocking the tourism potential of historical sites, places and people in the Province, has the potential of remarkable positive and financial benefit. All sites will be GPS (Global Positioning System) marked and linked to the online heritage portal and mobile application for referencing via a Quick Response (QR) Code. This will allow tourists and scholars to easily access and interact with the locations and the information surrounding the heritage markers. Existing heritage routes in the Province will be linked to the Portal and the content therein. It is proposed that numerous (3000) green plaques are rolled out across the province over the next 20 years.
The main aims of the Initiative is to rekindle an interest amongst young people in their heritage in a format that appeals, will stimulate tourism, provide work opportunities and enhance social cohesion through awareness of our shared past and to establish a Proudly KZN Project.
We believe that South Africans have to tell their own stories with “South Africans telling the Africa story” to the world. This project will provide an official platform to preserve the Provinces heritage as told by South Africans.
A key project objective is the inclusion of additional “current heritage” content. This will allow the initiative to include material relating to the institutional memory of the Provincial Government. Telling the story of subject matters like the War on Poverty, AIDS, Housing, School feeding programmes, and many others.
As the Province of KwaZulu-Natal progresses towards a knowledge-based economy and community, it is fundamental that it puts in place a clear roadmap that can be used for the preservation and strengthening of the province’s heritage resources. One of the key challenges that were identified in the establishment of the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative is the current neglected state of the province’s heritage demanding that a larger focus should be placed on the preservation of the provinces heritage & culture.
- Advance the Province of KwaZulu-Natal’s ability to preserve its rich heritage and legacy.
- Establish a joint Provincial Digital Heritage Preservation Programme (PDHPP).
- Formulate a mechanism to enable the youth to access this Heritage Resource.
- The building of an online Heritage portal (kznheritage.org) that will interactively display heritage content form all spheres of provincial government and civil society.
- An active programme that will be aimed at collecting and preserving heritage content.
- Building a capacity to house and display heritage content.
- Educate and train young people to access this heritage resource.
- Establish an artefact repatriation and digital exchange programme.
- Actively record “current heritage” in the province. (See section 6)
- Establish a “Green Plaque” sub-programme that will mark significant sites across the Province.
All material and content referenced in the Inventory Engine will remain the property of its original owners. All content on the database will the classified under an appropriate access level, depending on the sensitivity and usage rights.
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