Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Field ranger and Cultural tour guide
“It goes by many names.”
Which is as epic an introduction to a magical ancient site as anyone can script. It’s only places of importance that get this kind of salutation.
Johannes Masalesa is an exceptionally passionate field ranger in the Mapungubwe National Park. Here in the most northern part of South Africa, where our borders meet with Zimbabwe and Botswana, lies one of Africa’s marvels. Johannes is from the area. He is a direct descendant of the ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, and tells the (not quite) lost stories and history as told to him by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Without him our knowledge of this place would be so much poorer, and a lot more academically boring.
The revered place where an ancient African Kingdom thrived a thousand years ago, is where he spends his days. A powerful indigenous Kingdom where royalty lived. A people that grew crops, wore jewelry and played mathematical games. While Europe was very much still in the dark ages, the people of Mapungubwe traded with the East and had a justice system.
The site was re-discovered in the ‘30s and the Apartheid Government tried to downplay the story as a mysterious chapter in our past. Luckily in 1994 that changed and Mapungubwe was given heritage status. Johannes helps keep this heritage alive. He has written a book to help preserve the stories that so almost got lost.