Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape
Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape
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The Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape is located in the eastern part of the Central District near the town of Palapye in Botswana. The area stretches over a 70km magnificent range of the Tswapong Hills. The Tswapong Hills are about 15km wide and rise 400m above their surroundings. The rocks of Tswapong Hills were formed 1800 million years ago within a major sedimentary basin. They consist of horizontal layers of sandstone, ironstone, conglomerates of rounded water-worn pebbles and quartzites. A capping of hard and resistance rock has protected the hills from erosion resulting with high elevation from the surrounding plains. The hills are typically flat topped and in many places sheer-sided with striking vertical cliffs. Deep gorges have been carved into the hills giving rise to seasonal rivers, fed by natural springs where absorbed rain water seeps through the porous rock along fault zones as springs. These springs give rise to streams forming waterfalls with deep moss-edged pools. The western edge of the hill range presents the magnificent remains of the Historic Ngwato capital with the famous church built under the leadership of Khama III in 1892. The area has evidence of multiple phases of human occupation from early Stone Age to the 19th century AD.
The Tswapong Hills are some of the most diverse in terms of ecological habitats accommodating different animals such as the endangered Cape Griffon vultures, small bovids, fish, crabs and over 345 butterfly species around the hills alone, due to abundant water. The area is also famous for its vast archaeological material including rock paintings, iron smelting sites and cultural practices particularly the intangible heritage of Moremi village.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The Tswapong Cultural Landscape presents a unique, rare heritage resource with fascinating natural scenic beauty that attracted different traditions over a long period of time. The numerous waterfalls and picturesque cliffs along the hill escarpment give the area a unique attraction. The iron rich geologic formations have greatly influenced the tradition of iron working in the area for a long time.
The Hills are regarded as sacred by the Batswapong/ Bapedi people living in the villages around the hills. They are associated with ancestors of the Bapedi tribe and as such bore testimony to living traditions with ideas or with beliefs that the ancestors live in the area and controls what happens in the area particularly rain, fertility and harvest. The shrine locally known as the Komana which is located in Moremi village is strongly and secretly guarded by the Komana elders who communicate directly with the "Badimo" (ancestors).
The Tswapong Cultural Landscape fulfils criteria (v) and (vi) for cultural sites.
(v) be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
Tswapong Cultural Landscape has evidence of direct prehistoric human occupation and interaction with environment and land use dating from the Early Stone Age to the contemporary settlement implicitly of the living and intangible heritage of the area. The current settlements around the Hills are a clear manifestation of environmental influence whereby water source points form the nucleus of the villages' origin.
(vi) be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal value.
The Tswapong Hills are regarded as sacred by the Batswapong/ Bapedi people living in the villages around the hills. They are associated with ancestors of the Bapedi tribe and as such bore testimony to living traditions with ideas or with beliefs that the ancestors live in the area and controls everything that happens in the area.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape covers about 250 km2 area and has a wide range of cultural features that have only been undergoing traditional practices. The area also represents the best example of multiple phases of human occupation from early Stone Age to the 19th century AD.The nominated area has no destructive interference from humans in terms of intensive economic activities and vandalism hence the cultural tradition development pattern bearing believes of a living tradition remains intact.
The Tswapong Cultural Landscape is managed jointly with local trusts such as Kgetsi- ya- tsie and Moremi-Manonnye Community trusts which are aimed at sustainable utilization of natural and cultural resources of the area. The Moremi Gorge has a management plan which was formulated in 2001. The management plan describes environmental and archaeological resources and guides on management and development of the resource for the benefit of the community.
Comparison with other similar properties
Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape displays a unique form of cultural expression with great influence of the environment which is comparable to sites such as the Kenyan Kaya Forests. As the Kaya elders are the main custodian of the forest, Tswapong Hills intangible heritage is strictly guarded by the Komana Cult elders. The settlement patterns around the hills are similar to those of Okavango Delta where the major attraction is surrounded by villages.