News and Trends

Africa gains three new World Heritage Sites


Three locations in Africa have been inducted as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). From small beginnings in 1954, UNESCO now has more than 1 000 locations globally, celebrated and observed for their cultural, historical and scientific significance. South Africa boasts another entry on the list of protected sites, with Angola and Eritrea making their first appearances - all bearing testament to the rich history of Africa and its people.

Asmara, Eritrea

heritage site Asmara: a Modernist city of Africa. Image by Dr. Edward Edison.

This is the very first time that Eritrea has a heritage site inducted by UNESCO. Asmara is the capital of the country and today, this beautiful city stands as a significant example of early Modernist Urbanism during the 20th century. In the 1890s Asmara served as an outpost for the Italy during colonial rule, after which the city underwent a large-scale construction programme. Today, the city's public spaces and buildings are a visually stunning glimpse into the past.

Mbanza Kongo, Angola

The new Cathedral (Nossa Senhora da ConceiÁ„o). Image by Joost De Raeymaeker.

Once the capital of the Kingdom of Kongo in the 14th to 19th centuries, Mbanza Kongo also sees Angola making its first induction by UNESCO. This area used to be the seat of the royal house, but was later infiltrated by the Portuguese, after which European and Christian traditions were introduced to the area, influencing the architecture in the surrounds as well as affecting the commonly held customs and beliefs.

 ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape, South Africa

heritage site Dancing around fire, ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape. Image by Francois Odendaal Productions.

This incredible site is situated on the border of Botswana and Namibia in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Remarkably, evidence found at the site has proven that people have occupied this space since the Stone Age. Through these remains, we see a glimpse into a way of life shaped by the harsh environment but kept alive through countless generations of people.