UCT spokesperson Aamirah Sonday said the documentation project was initiated to increase international awareness of Africa’s heritage and to provide material for research and education.
She said at the same time it created a permanent metrically accurate record of important sites for restoration and conservation purposes. The Project had covered mainly Africa, but also the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Zamani Project principal investigator Professor Heinz Rüther said through the documentation of heritage sites, the Project’s aim was to make a contribution to the fight against damage and destruction of sites through war, political unrest, vandalism, art theft, climate change, rising sea level, natural disasters and natural deterioration.
Rüther said the team had completed documentation work in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Algeria, as well as in Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Myanmar.
International Day For Monuments and Sites was established in 1982 by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and was approved by the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Since then, April 18 has been known as a day to celebrate and promote cultural heritage, and an opportunity to raise awareness about its diversity.
Cape Jewish Board of Deputies director Stuart Diamond said the day would encourage local communities and individuals throughout the world to consider the importance of cultural heritage in their lives and to promote awareness of its diversity and vulnerability and the efforts required to protect and conserve it.
Diamond said the government itself must understand the value of people’s history and culture.
He said it must consider sharing people’s stories through heritage sites: “That is a way to transfer knowledge between generations, which is a crucial step in cultural development characterising the human experience since time immemorial”.
Director of The Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument Michael Jonas said the theme of this year’s International Day of Monuments and Sites is “Rural Landscapes” and it focuses on the importance of rural areas and the effect their welfare has on the rest of a country.
Jonas said the institution is a living monument, where there is continuous interaction between the structure, nature, visitors and language creators.
“We like to give lesser-known writers, musicians and poets a chance to expose their work to a larger audience.
“Most visitors are not only very interested in the history of Afrikaans, but also curious about the language’s development and her latest creative incarnations as it offers new perspectives on the worlds of many Afrikaans-speaking Africans,” Jonas said.@SISONKE_MD