San descendants ceremony

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Descendants of the San hunter gatherer people, who once lived throughout the uKhahlamba Drakensberg mountains, took part recently in annual festivities to honour their heritage.

The Duma family hold a traditional private ceremony in the mountains at Game Pass Shelter, one of the most famous rock art sites. Afterwards a public event was held at the Kamberg Nature Resever co-funded by Amafa, the provincial heritage body, the Rock Art Trust and Armstrong Brothers with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife contributing a culled eland. 

“This celebration brought together all those involved in rock art: from descendants of those who painted it to today’s custodians plus researchers and tourism bodies,” said Celeste Rossouw, Amafa’s rock art specialist, who gave a presentation to the 300 guests. 

“With such public interest in the art, it’s important for people to know some sites have been closed to protect them while visitors to others must be accompanied by a trained guide drawn from one of the neighbouring communities.” 

Among the guests were delegates from the royal family of the AmaDumisa. Others were Dr. Martin Duma and Nkosi Mzwendoda Duma. From the Thendela village were traditional herbalist Mr Elliot Ndlovu and Mr Richard Duma who specialises in the Secret San Tours. 

Mr Duma is a descendant of the San people who left more than 60 000 images in some 600 caves and rocky overhangs to provide the world’s largest outdoor art gallery. These, combined with the natural beauty and ecological processes of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park caused it to be listed as a World Heritage Site in 2000.