Kruger unveils revamped Albasini Ruins cultural heritage site for tourists

2017-05-17 11:36
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Cape Town - The cultural heritage of the Phabeni area in SA's flagship national Park Kruger has been given a fresh breath of life.

South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers officially handed-over the Phabeni Interpretive Centre to Kruger National Park Management Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at the Albasini Ruins cultural heritage site.

The project, which began in January 2015, saw some  500 man hours at a cost of R125 000 to build the centre. Key refurbishments of the centre included re-fencing and preservation of the Albasini Ruins and the grave sites at the Interpretation Site. 

The centre, which is found at Phabeni Gate, boasts the newly designed display structure as well as the re-fenced Albasini Ruins and the two grave sites; which reveal interesting history of people who stayed and worked in the Phabeni area in the past.

More than 627 cultural heritage and historical sites

“KNP is best known for its rich biodiversity such as animals, plants and vast wilderness, however what many people do not know is that the Park also boasts more than 627 cultural heritage and historical sites and only a few of them, including the Albasini Ruins where we are unveiling the centre today are open to the public”, says Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips at the event.

Phillips recognized the families of the Nkuna and Mavundla who stayed in the area in the past and have family members who were buried in the Phabeni area.

Praised for their contribution to the rich history

The East Rand Region Honorary Ranger, Ralph Davey expresses his appreciation for Lance Corporal Willie Nkuna, for his contribution to the history of the Phabeni Interpretive Centre.

Specifically, 94-year-old Willie Nkuna, one of the living and original family members of the Nkuna clan who stayed at the site and is a KNP retired Ranger – Lance Corporal, was present at the handover. He heard how his family and that of the Mavundla were praised for their contribution to the rich history in the Centre.

The parks 2022 Responsible Tourism Strategy has outlined the need for cultural heritage interpretation to be improved within SANParks.   

"There is oral history which has been recorded by our People and Conservation Department, and we will continue to engage with people like Willie Nkuna as they hold the Park’s cultural and historical information (good or bad) which needs to be narrated and interpreted, for the benefit of everybody including the future generation," says Phillips. 

Unsung heroes whilst revealing interesting history of the area

Cutting the ribbon for the unveiling of the Phabeni Interpretive Centre is KNP Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips (brown cap). With him in the middle are the original inhabitants of the Phabeni area Retired Ranger - Lance Corporal Willie Nkuna (blue blazer), his wife maNkuna (brown jersey), also maMavundla who is wife to the late Samuel Mavundla whose grave can be seen at the unveiled site and the National Executive Committee Chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers, Louis Lemmer (on the right).

Phillips also praised the SANParks Honorary Rangers for the role they played in creating the centre as it provides a platform for the celebration of the lives of those unsung heroes whilst revealing interesting history of the area.

“Your work as the SANParks Honorary Rangers has not ended and we are still going to approach you for assistance; as there is still a lot of work which needs to be done in terms of building similar structures throughout the Park”, concluded Phillips.

The Phabeni Interpretive Centre is made up of the Albasini Ruins, the grave sites, the thatched hut (rondavel) displaying Albasini data and artefacts, and the new display structure that has been built. It forms part of the historical and cultural sites in the Park open to the public.

The SANParks Honorary Rangers will maintain the site on a regular basis, and manage improvements and additions whenever there is a need

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