Robben Island, South Africa

Kasubi Tombs, Uganda

Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe


Since the decision taken in Sofia in October 1996 that a General Assembly of ICOMOS would come to Africa, the committees of Southern Africa have stood behind the efforts of their sister committee in Zimbabwe to ensure that the venture there will be an outstanding success. As a resident of a country of the region, I am confident of the abilities of my colleagues north of the Limpopo River to achieve a successful General Assembly, having personally worked closely with them on the arrangements made thus far.

All Africans know that the Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya is an outstanding site of both natural beauty and cultural importance and I believe that the decision to hold the General Assembly at such a wonderful place complements the theme of the Scientific Symposium in ways that many delegates will be surprised to learn upon arrival there. My own country, South Africa, is more diverse than most with its rainbow of African, Oriental and European values, but the theme of the General Assembly has nevertheless excited heritage professionals there, no matter what their cultural background or field of practice and this for me illustrates that it is a theme of universal relevance, touching the work of all of us regardless of our geographical location or area of specialisation. I am confident that this will emerge very strongly from the deliberations and appeal to delegates to present papers that will enrich deliberations by exploring the theme from their own geographical, cultural and specialist perspectives.

Southern Africa is a region that while unexplored by most heritage practitioners has a great diversity of subject matter to offer. It has, to cite a few examples, a vast rock art heritage; the world's oldest hominid fossils and evidence of the earliest human cultures. It also has remarkable traditions of vernacular architecture from both African and colonial traditions and a little known, but as important, heritage of 20th century architecture. For the 400 years preceding the 20th century it was also the crossroad of world trade and has an extensive underwater cultural heritage. By contrast, in just the last half-century, all of its countries have endured and survived one of the world's most remarkable and enduring struggles against oppression and exploitation that has left its own mark on our collective heritage. We hope that while at Victoria Falls, and perhaps elsewhere on our sub-continent, you will experience the resilience of our people and the diversity of their heritage.

In partnership with our colleagues in Zimbabwe I look forward to welcoming you all to Africa.

Andrew Hall
President of ICOMOS South Africa


Dernière mise à jour: 05/06/2003