Visit to uMhwabane (eBusingatha) rock shelter, Ukahlamba-Drakensberg, KZN
Recently, staff and volunteers of the Human Sciences Department and Exhibitions Department of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum had the opportunity to visit the rock art site eBusingatha, or uMhwabane as it is known locally. The site is situated in the AmaZizi Traditional Authority area, adjacent to the Royal Natal National Park. Many rock art panels were removed due to concern over vandalism. They were taken to the Natal National Park Hotel where they were viewed by the British royal family during their 1947 visit. The rocks are now in the care of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum with one, portraying the well-known ‘elephant-man’, on display in the Hunter-Gatherer Gallery.
Only one large painted panel remains in its place at the site. Beautiful shaded polychrome eland, human figures, and the remains of a huge snake can still be seen (see image above). Unfortunately, the rock surface is exfoliating and slowly the images are being lost. Every time we visit we see more has flaked away. Below are two copies of this panel made in 1929 showing how the rock art has degraded over the last 90+ years.
This copy shows the snake and surrounding figures, many of which can still be matched up to what survives at the site. Use this image to spot the snake in the photograph above! Courtesy of the Frobenius Institute (Search for “FBA-D2 01574” (include the quote marks in your search)).
This copy, over 3m long, shows a detailed row of figures that used to adorn the stretch of rock below the snake. The white oval shows what is virtually the last fragment of this imagery (match to the white oval in the photograph). Courtesy of SARADA.
The site is open to the public. Those interested in visiting can contact Bawinile Mtolo of the Mdlankhomo Rock Art Monitoring Group on 074 724 7826.