National Heritage Site Cemeteries
August 25, 2015
A national heritage site has historical and cultural importance. A National Heritage Site is open to the public. And South Africa has its fair share of National Heritage Site Cemeteries.
Military activity, as well as liberation struggles, have added to South Africa’s illustrious history. And burial sites, war memorials and monuments are reminders to us of the history of South Africa.
Certainly, graves form an important part of South Africa’s heritage and are conserved for future generations. The preservation of these significant places of commemoration is to honour people who have died because of acts of heroism.
National Heritage Site Cemeteries – Graves with Exceptional Qualities
The SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency) preserves and maintain graves and memorials of heroes who have died. They must also ensure they remain undisturbed, regardless of how inaccessible and difficult they are to maintain.
The South African Heritage Resources Agency has an important job to not only put up memorial tombstones but to protect them and identify places with exceptional qualities.
The grave of Sarah Baartman for instance, a Khoikhoi woman regarded as an oddity, has a grave known as ‘Hottentot Venus’ which was declared a heritage site in 2008. Her grave is a reminder for everyone to work towards the upliftment of human rights and dignity. This grave site and National Heritage Site is found in Vergaderingskop, a hill which overlooks the Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape.
There are some graves of anti-apartheid activists that have been declared national heritage sites. Many of these are at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto. One of these is the grave of Charlotte Maxeke. The Johannesburg General Hospital is named after her. The grave of political activist Helen Joseph is also a national heritage site.
National Heritage Site Cemeteries – Many Fallen Heroes Buried in KZN Battlefields
Just think of how the British fought the Zulu in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Then you’ll discover that the Battlefields region of KwaZulu-Natal is a national heritage site which has famous cemeteries in it.
Cemeteries such as the Norwegian Cemetery and the Fort Eshowe Military Cemetery which has more than 80 British soldiers who died while serving in the British army between 1879 and 1898. The Blood River Heritage Site is also a battlefield of South Africa.
It was in 1956 that the South African War Graves Board started up to look after war graves, and today the South African Heritage Resources Agency and the Burial Sites Unit maintains these sites. The sites are areas of exceptional natural- and cultural value and worthy of protection.
These gravesites, cemeteries, monuments and landscapes are recognised locally and internationally, and South Africa needs to safeguard these sites so that future generations can understand what an awesome country South Africa is.
It can be well worth it to visit some of these national heritage site cemeteries and graves. They will take you back in time to South Africa’s glorious and also turbulent past.
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All info was correct at time of publishing