Maropeng, the official visitor centre for South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, celebrated the country’s national Heritage Day on Monday the 24th of September with the unveiling of the Human Impact picnic site at its new Stone Park.
Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, and Mayor of Mogale City, Patrick Lipudi, were present on the day to cut the ribbon across the giant granite stones which serve as an entrance to Stone Park and are designed as stone tools to symbolise human endeavor and industry. Managing Director of Maropeng, Michael Worsnip, introduced the special occasion, as well as Minister Hanekom, Mayor Lipudi, and CEO of the Cradle of Humankind and Dinokeng Project, MakhukhuMampuru.
Heritage Day encourages South Africans across the spectrum to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions. After years of Apartheid the Heritage Day public holiday is an attempt by the government to bring South Africans together in mutual understanding of each others’ respective cultures.
The Stone Park was designed and completed by award-winning landscaping firm FSG late last year. A rolling green landscape punctuated by striking granite pieces make the space contemplative and artistic. It was the ideal setting for the Cradle Colour Fest, due to the event being held at the beginning of spring, one of the most beautiful times of year in the Cradle of Humankind.
The site is an important World Heritage Site as it represents the story of human development and how humans craft their environment to suit their needs. The park can be used for a variety of events such as picnics, concerts, weddings, gatherings or festivals. After the unveiling of the Human Impact picnic site, Maropeng hosted its first-ever festival event called the Cradle Colour Fest, inviting visitors to celebrate their shared history and heritage, or experience the local cultural history and celebrate the diverse cultures of the South African nation.
The colourful festival was a fun event for all ages to celebrate and hosted appearances and performances by a number of South African artists, musicians, fashion designers and dancers such as DJ Dino Bravo and The Fossils. The festival was a collaboration with a number of South African organisations including the SA Department of Arts and Culture, Gauteng Tourism and Go West!
The Cradle of Humankind is globally recognised as the world’s richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils. It is also where the discovery of Homo naledi took place, fossils that scientists date from between 335 000 and 236 000 years ago.
The Maropeng Visitor Centre and Sterkfontein Caves give tourists the opportunity to explore the history of humanity, captured in preserved fossils in the museum, or explore the caves where many of the fossils were found.