Project to record SA's heritage
Karen Pretorius23 August 2005
The South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) is busy compiling a record - for the first time - of all heritage assets under a single national inventory.
Sahra CEO Phakamani Buthelezi says the project will run for three years with R12-million in funding from the Department of Arts and Culture. "This project belongs to the people of South Africa because in the end they will know what the country owns," he said.
The manager of the national inventory, David Hart, said the project would lead to a single interactive online database of the heritage resources owned by government - a "fantastic vehicle" for disseminating information on the country's heritage.
The inventory will be divided into chapters, such as the built environment, archaeology, palaeontology, graves, shipwrecks, objects and intangible assets.
Two pilot projects have already been launched, including an archaeology database set up by Sahra's archaeology unit. The developer, Sarah Wurz, says it has taken two years to set up. It contains information on sites such as Sterkfontein Caves in Gauteng and the West Coast Fossil Park in the Western Cape.
The other pilot project is based in North West, and records the province's heritage resources such as the fossil site of the Taung skull. This provincial database is expected to feed into the national database.
The director for museums and heritage in the Eastern Cape provincial government, Similo Grootboom, said: "It's not as if we're writing on a clean slate. Tremendous work has been done already and we need to tap into that."
The vice-president of the South African Museums Association, Beverley Thomas, said the success of the project will depend on the input. "This is a wonderful project which will certainly liven up the heritage industry," she said.