Traditional Custodianship of Rock Art Sites in Southern Africa: a case study from Central Mozambique.

  • Author: Albino P. J. Jopela
  • Topic: Heritage studies,Rock art studies
  • Country: Mozambique
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

In Mozambique, as in other parts of Africa, traditional management systems have been used since pre-colonial times to preserve places with cultural significance such as rock art sites (Pwiti & Mvenge 1996; Ndoro 2001, 2003; Mumma 2005; Pwiti et al. 2007). Much of Mozambique’s rich cultural heritage has yet to be documented; only a few hundred rock art sites are known and documented and of these even fewer are effectively managed. Despite the efforts of the heritage institutions to manage rock art sites, very few sites have actually benefited from modern heritage management approaches (Macamo 1996; Macamo & Saetersdal 2004; Macamo 2005; Jopela 2006). There is now a growing awareness that many communities in southern Africa have always had traditional management structures to maintain, respect and ensure the survival of culturally important and sacred sites (Ndoro & Pwiti 2005). Given the problems with current modern approaches to heritage management, the question of how to develop a sustainable and successful framework for the effective management of sacred rock art sites becomes an important one. Following from this is the question of whether a more effective and sustainable method of managing sacred rock art sites might be learnt by studying traditional management systems. This paper presents the results of recent research in Central Mozambique to address this question. This work centred on the traditional custodianship of archaeological sites as a strategy for managing cultural heritage in Mozambique, and possibly beyond.

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