By Surekha Singh, Commissioning Editor, SABC Education - Shift is planning a visit to Mapungubwe, the site of significant, substantiated, and historic evidence that African civilization was alive, well and vibrant from the second millennium, onwards.
The existence of Mapungubwe turns the colonial and apartheid narrative of the absence of African participation, and indeed leadership in innovation and organised industry, on its head. The existence of this evidence, led to a systematic suppression, lasting hundreds of years, and thus promoting the lie that, African history, only started with the arrival of Dutch colonialists in 1652, and subsequently, the English.
Shift would like to visit ancient Mapungubwe, which has been restored and developed as a heritage site. We would like to contextualise this history to contemporary life, in the new democratic South Africa, and track any linearity between the ancient and the modern culture of the area. Whilst there could be contestation over the theory that, ancient cultural practices, give birth to modern cultures, we must admit that, no civilization endured such concerted forms of suppression and subjugation, as the ancient civilization of Mapungubwe. Despite this, the cultures of the far north of Limpopo, shows traces of ancient cultural practices, which are worthy of serious enquiry.
Significantly, Mapungubwe is not only a heritage site, but a contemporary corridor to the confluence of important human movements, linking the cultures of many nations in the subcontinent. Is history repeating itself?