The Kingdom of Mapungubwe.


It comes as no surprise that there is a wealth of history in Africa and more especially in South Africa which we were never taught in schools. The early history of Mapungubwe has been extensively explored by archaeologists from the University of Pretoria and I have traced the history of the area made up of the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers which today has been developed into a well-known wildlife reserve and a Transfrontier Park. 

It is known that the first people to settle in the area were around 1000 AD to around 1300AD and these were subsistence farmers growing maize and cattle. The farming community was the migration of central Africa and they brought with them a culture and traditions. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe - otherwise known as the Gold Kingdom came into being around 1220 and lasted for about 100 years. Mapungubwe is a citadel, it rises about 300 m above the valley and it is almost impenetrable without a stairway.

It is on this citadel that the Gold Kings lived in a fiefdom-way they were served by about 10,000 African farmers. During the exploration conducted by the archaeologists, they came across the artefacts that the artisans of those days produced, the famous 'Golden Rhino' which is in the "Mapungubwe Museum" at UJ in Pretoria.

It is known that at the time there were many similar kingdoms scattered throughout Botswana and Zimbabwe and South Africa of a similar nature. But during the time of Mapungubwe, this was considered to be the centre of these fiefdoms and that that the time they all were in communication with one another, sharing and exchanging their produce and they were known to be conducting trade with the Arab doabs out of the Mozambican port of Sofala. The items that were up for trade were ivory, animal hides, copper products such as bracelets and anklets, and the gold objects that they made. 

The fiefdoms were very strong and it is thought that the black plague (bubonic plague) brought an end to life in Mapungubwe, and this gave rise to the pinnacle of them all 'Great Zimbabwe' this was by far the most extravagant undertaking in terms of architecture, design and construction. Both Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe live on and exist as evidence of the craftsman of their time. Both establishments are maintained and kept as living memories of these times.

Mapungubwe is administered as a wildlife park by South African National Parks, with accommodation and facilities available for overnight and camping as it exists in all the other SANParks establishments. 

This is a big five wildlife Park and is truly worth a visit not only for the wildlife but to spend time in the museum and the opportunity to visit the citadel. The park is known as the Mapungubwe National Park and it is in the Vhembe-Dongola district of the Limpopo Province.

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe.