Dargle kids hiked to Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg Nature Reserve recently.
Earlier this year, the Midlands Meander Association Education Project (MMAEP) and Howick uMngeni Museum organised a ‘Stories of Change’ history exhibition for Midlands Schools, culminating in an exhibition at the Museum in June. Each school approached this in a different way, interviewing people, collecting old artefacts, comparing life in the past to now.
The winner (by public vote) was Corrie Lynn School in Dargle. Their project included interviewing and doing portraits of older local people in their community about life in the past, as well as gathering historical artefacts.
They learnt fascinating things about life many years ago in Dargle. For instance Mr Ngubane told Mzwanele Zuma that they travelled to Howick by horse to go to the clinic or shops or, for longer journeys to Pietermaritzburg, by trains that used coal and caused air pollution. Smilo Sithole discovered that everyone had to bring their own lunch to school and that no one wore shoes. Phindile Zuma talked to someone who only went to school for six months because he had to work herding cattle and goats. Everyone had big gardens in those days and grew lots of food and ground their own mielies. Spesihle Mncubu interviewed a man born in 1920 who told him he used to earn 25c per day.
Nolwazi Ngcobo remembered Nelson Mandela being arrested in 1962 and using a slate to write at school.
Their prize was a trip to Game Pass Shelter cave in Kamberg last month, to learn about the really old history of the Midlands. After a winding drive along the R103 to Kamberg Nature Reserve, Sondelani the guide, explained the rules of visiting a natural heritage site. The group set off at a very brisk pace – Sondelani is a super fit boxer!
It was a chilly, overcast day and a lot of the park had burnt the day before so the visibility was poor. The advantage was that it was easy to see reedbuck and baboons foraging for food in the un-burnt sections.
Spring wildflowers were beginning to unfold and Thabiso Mkhulise the Grade 7 photographer (who did a photography course with the MMAEP, sponsored by N3TC through the Midlands Conservancies Forum Environmental Learning and Leadership programme in July) was kept busy documenting the flowers.
The wind was strong higher on the mountain and at one point everybody crouched down to avoid being blown off the path!
On reaching the cave there were exclamations of surprise at the beautiful Bushman paintings and everyone had a taste of the crystal clear water which seeped through the moss.
The Game Pass Shelter is commonly referred to as the “Rosetta Stone” of southern African rock art, for it was here that archaeologists first uncovered a vital key to understanding the symbolism of San rock art. The uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage site contains 500 known sites of San rock art, with over 40 000 images. The San people lived in the Drakensberg area for thousands of years before being exterminated in clashes with the Zulus and white settlers.
After an informative explanation, the children skipped happily down the mountainside pointing out plants, animals and birds.
The National Lottery and Dargle Conservancy provided the funding to support this adventurous day out. Teacher Thenjiwe Ngcobo said ‘I might never get a chance like this again to see a place like this. That was a wonderful experience!’