Four centuries of stirring Zulu history have been captured in a state-of-the-art, high definition and surround sound film that will be a key attraction to the multi-million rand uMgungundlovu Centre in the eMakhosini Valley.
“This is only the second such installation in South Africa,” says Mr Barry Marshall, CEO of Amafa, the provincial heritage body which is implementing the project, It was initiated by KZN Premier Mr J.S. Ndebele as a tourist drawcard to this remote but historically-significant region.
Most of the early Zulu kings are buried in the valley where events like the slaying in 1838 by King Dingane’s warriors of Boer leader Piet Retief and his followers took place.
The centre - due to open in May to coincide with the tourism Indaba in Durban - has been built just below uMgungundlovu, Dingane’s vast royal homestead, and across from kwaMatiwane, the king’s Hill of Execution, where the Boers were buried.
The valley is part of the 28 000 ha eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park, initiative between Amafa and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to re-create the ancient cultural and natural landscape, first settled in the 17th century by Zulu people. It includes a game reserve proclaimed in 1991 as a sanctuary for endangered species like the black rhino.
The film illustrating this history and its sense of place today has been shot in the valley and at nearby battlefields of Blood River (1938) and Isandlwana (1879).
The 100-seater venue for screening can double at a conference or performance venue or a standard definite movie theatre. Design, specification and equipment supply and installation have been done by Johannesburg-based TADCO, the Audio Distribution Company.
“The film will introduce visitors to Zulu history and how it later became interwoven with that of the British and Boers who came in the 19th century seeking land out of which so much conflict arose,” says Mr Marshall.
The centre will also have an outdoor amphitheatre, viewing tower, restaurant, curio shop, museum displays and contemporary crafters at work.