Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cde Edgar Moyo, has implored communities living in areas around national parks to play a leading role in safeguarding and protecting heritage sites.
Speaking during the Matobo Watch Day commemorations at Silozwi Primary School in Matobo district on Wednesday, Cde Moyo said heritage sites are a key component of tourism.
He urged local communities to complement efforts by Government agencies such the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), ZimParks, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Forestry Commission in preserving heritage sites.
“This day is a special day for us as a country as we celebrate and remind each other of the importance of preserving our heritage in Matobo. Matobo Watch Day is an event that has been organised to help us reflect on our surroundings, the places we live in and what our ancestors left for us. We need to revive a sense of ownership of this heritage, which will be an inheritance for our children and generations to come,” he said.
The Deputy Minister expressed concern over acts of vandalism and graffiti on San rock paintings at Matobo National Park by some rogue elements.
“The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe cannot manage the heritage on their own but it takes a joint effort for its preservation to be achieved,” he said.
Matopos was nominated as a World Heritage Site by the Unesco in July 2003. It is one of the 25 sites chosen from all over the world to be placed on World Monuments Fund’s 2018 watch list.
World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organisation devoted to saving the world’s most treasured places and has injected money for the continued preservation of the Matopos site.
Matopos is one of the two cultural heritage sites from sub-Saharan Africa, which qualified for this year’s funding. The other site is the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Nigeria, a heritage site, which was destroyed by Boko Haram militants.
The World Monuments Fund through the World Monuments Watch advocates for the preservations of cultural heritages sites around the world which are under threat.
“Matopos being on the watch list will provide an opportunity for us to raise public awareness, foster local participation, advance innovation and collaboration which will effectively proffer solutions towards making Matopos a well preserved heritage site. This place is also a source of livelihood to its own benefactors, which are the local community,” said Cde Moyo.
He said through partnerships with local communities, funders and governments, World Monuments Fund seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to heritage stewardship for future generations.
“The biennial World Monuments Watch aims to protect heritage sites by bringing their challenges to the international stage and identifying opportunities for local communities to collaborate with preservation agencies, governments and corporate sponsors,” he said.
Khami World Heritage Site outside Bulawayo has also benefited from the initiative resulting in massive restorations and development.
Cde Moyo said the shift is now towards bringing communities to the centre of all efforts of managing their own heritage.
He urged Government agencies to work with local traditional leaders who are the custodians of culture.
The event was attended by renowned historian and founder of Amagugu International Heritage Centre, Mr Pathisa Nyathi, the founder of Cecil John Rhodes Ndebele Cultural Village, Mr David Ngwenya, ZimParks and NMMZ officials and local villagers among other stakeholders. — @mashnets