The Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Mr Thulani Nzima indicated that the primary purpose of this route is to honour all those who were involved in achieving freedom for the people of South Africa. This tourist route attracts local and international tourists to the various destinations that are linked to South Africa's history, culture and heritage. He further indicated that the route enhances and diversifies tourism products in the province.
The Nkangala District Resistance and Liberation Heritage route is part of the Mpumalanga chapter of the National Liberation Heritage Route, spearheaded by the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation, to map out, document and preserve Mpumalanga routes to independence. It highlights the key freedom fighters who fought against racial segregation as well as the destinations that featured prominently during the liberation struggle.
There are four key towns and sites that were extensively involved in the anti-apartheid liberation struggle, which resulted in a peaceful transition to democracy in 1994. These include Delmas, Emalahleni, Botshabelo and Mapoch caves. Although these are not the only sites within the Province that were home to various freedom fighters involved in the grassroots liberation struggle. As more research continues to be conducted, other towns may be added within the route.
A phased approach was conducted whereby the identified towns and sites were prioritised. Content for each site has been developed and the route has been mapped out with relevant signage put up for easy access by tourists. The towns prioritised focus on the following history:
Delmas Treason Trial Court: This monument is a tribute to 22 treason trialists and the devotion of their struggle against apartheid. It seeks to educate all South Africans about the history of the country and the contribution that the Delmas trialists made in the attainment of freedom and democracy in the country.
This monument honours the Mpumalanga heroes and heroines who died fighting for freedom and democracy. The Cenotaph is situated in a well-maintained park in Lynnville Township across the road from the police station and library.
Botshabelo: Known as “The place of refuge" in Northern Sotho. It originated in 1865 when Alexander Merensky of the Berlin Missionary Society (BMS) was forced to flee, with a small number of parishioners following the attacks by the soldiers of Sekhukhune, the king of the baPedi, from his previous mission station, Ga-Ratau. To protect themselves against attacks from Sekhukhune, the missionaries and their followers built a fort, which was named Fort Wilhelm after the Prussian King Wilhelm. Now known as Fort Merensky and with its "Mediaeval" tower and walls that project above Botshabelo. It is a unique blend of Western and Sotho architecture.
During the middle of the nineteenth century, a group of the AmaNdebele ruled by Chief Mapoch and known as the Mapoch tribe occupied the area around Rosseenekal. His son Nyabela who took refuge in the Mapoch’s Caves and established his headquarters in that inaccessible maze of rocks and kloofs succeeded Mapoch. The ordinary kraals lay to the left of this stronghold and a pointed koppie called Spitskoppie to the south served as a kind of advanced fortification. This is an immensely important cultural site, especially to the Ndebele people of the area. A mighty statue of Chief Nyabela heralds your entrance to the caves.
The rich history surrounding the four towns has been packaged in order to allow tour operators to sell tourism packages that relate to the history and culture of the province. The route is intended to preserve our country’s struggle history for future generations.
“It is our responsibility as a tourism agency to promote the various tourism offerings in the province and diversify the market in order to allow tourists to stay longer. Each of the towns provide tourism products and services that will encourage tourists to visit and experience the route in its entirety”, concluded Nzima.
A detailed content highlighting each town and the various offerings in each place has been developed. This provides a detailed information about the route, accommodation, attractions and maps. The information will assist in planning your trip when visiting the attractions on this route. Information is available on www.mpumalanga.com or you can download it from the Mpumalanga Travel Guide App available on apple and android phones.