The Mnweni and AmaZizi Cultural and Rock art Groups (MCG and MMG), formed over 10 years ago, each with a separate Constitution, function independently but undertake joint training and field trips from time to time. Their main activities are the monitoring of rock art sites in their areas of the proposed Community Nature Reserve and Wilderness Area, and its approaches and a Cultural and Rock art outreach programme to raise awareness amongst the local youth. Both the groups also interact with AMAFA and the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. Several members of the groups also function as local guides.
At the request of the groups sponsored joint training exercises were held with Dr. J. Deacon (a leading authority on rock art) and Dr.J. Hollmann (formerly of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum) in the removal of charcoal graffiti from selected sites. This initiative included consultation with local people. The groups do not undertake any graffiti removal activities without the approval of the relevant heritage authority and the supervision of specialists in the field.
Dr. Deacon (standing centre) assists the groups with the removal of graffiti after their instruction while Dr. J. Hollmann is seated left
Another activity of the groups, in addition to their monitoring activities, is an outreach to the youth to raise awareness of the importance of rock paintings and conservation of the art. The need for such a programme was identified by MCG and MMG members in conjunction with teachers from local schools. Rock art monitors accredited by AMAFA visit 12 or more local schools annually and implement the programme in the higher standard of both Primary and High Schools whenever funding is available. Thus, ideally, each child would go through the programme twice during their years at school and receive a Certificate of Attendance on each occasion.
The Cultural and Rock art Programme consists of seven phases, each phase dealing with various cultural aspects, one of which is rock art, of both San and Nguni origin, within a general cultural context. The programme was initially designed with guidance from archaeologists at AMAFA and the former Natal Museum as well as anthropologist, Dr. Frans Prins. A special effort is also made to interact with young shepherds who from time to time utilise painted sites for shelter. Elders are most helpful in this regard. Whenever funding permits children also undertake field trips to a rock art site in their area under the supervision of rock art monitors and a teacher.
Elder from the Tonyelane Valley speaking to young shepherds about the need to conserve rock art
Meridy Pfotenhauer (Community Liaison & Facilitation) with now retired principal (standing, back row) and teacher (standing right 2nd row) with some of the Programme's children from a local Primary School, Mnweni
Dr.J. Hollmann, formerly of KwaZulu Natal Museum, discussing rock art with children from one of the Mnweni high schools