Three sites in Angola, Eritrea and South Africa added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

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Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kong (Angola)
© INPC
2017-07-08

The World Heritage Committee this morning inscribed three cultural sites in Angola, Eritrea and South Africa. With these inscriptions, Angola and Eritrea make their first entries to the World Heritage List.

The sites added, in order of inscription are:

Mbanza Kongo, vestiges of the capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola)

The town of Mbanza Kongo, located on a plateau at an altitude of 570 metres, was the political and spiritual capital of the Kingdom of Kongo, one of the largest constituted states in Southern Africa from the 14th to 19thcenturies. The historical area grew around the royal residence, the customary court and the holy tree, as well as the royal funeral places. When the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century they added stone buildings constructed in accordance with European methods to the existing urban conurbation built in local materials. Mbanza Kongo illustrates, more than anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, the profound changes caused by the introduction of Christianity and the arrival of the Portuguese into Central Africa.

 

Asmara: a Modernist City of Africa (Eritrea)

Located at over 2000 metres above sea level, the capital of Eritrea developed from the 1890’s onwards as a military outpost for the Italian colonial power. After 1935, Asmara underwent a large scale programme of construction applying the Italian rationalist idiom of the time to governmental edifices, residential and commercial buildings, churches, mosques, synagogues, cinemas, hotels, etc. The property encompasses the area of the city that resulted from various phases of planning between 1893 and 1941, as well as the indigenous unplanned neighbourhoods of Arbate Asmera and Abbashawel. It is an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context.

 

ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape (Republic of South Africa)

The ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape is located at the border with Botswana and Namibia in the northern part of the country, coinciding with the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP). The large expanse of sand contains evidence of human occupation from the Stone Age to the present and is associated with the culture of the formally nomade ǂKhomani San people and the strategies that allowed them to adapt to harsh desert conditions. They developed a specific ethnobotanical knowledge, cultural practices and a worldview related to the geographical features of their environment. The ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape bears testimony to the way of life that prevailed in the region and shaped the site over thousands of years.

 

The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (9-12 July), chaired by Jacek Purchla, founder and director of the International Cultural Centre in Kraków, will continue inscribing sites on the World Heritage List through 9 July.

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