Work has begun on the multi-million rand interpretive centre at uMgungundlovu, site of the impressive 19th century royal capital of King Dingane.
It will showcase four centuries of Zulu history and lies within the 30 000 hectare eMakhosini Opathe Heritage Park near Ulundi.
In 1828 Dingane ordered the slaying of Voortrekker leader Piet Retief and his followers who had come seeking a grant of land. They were buried on nearby kwaMatiwane hill where there is also a memorial.
The king later ordered his capital to be burned but archaeologists were able to pinpoint the circular fire-baked mud floors and some dwellings have been reconstructed.
Due to the current building project, the existing visitors’ centre and uMgungundlovu itself will be closed to the public. The grave of Piet Retief and his party remains open.
Following a proposal by Amafa, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Mr J.S. Ndebele and his Cabinet approved provincial funding for a multi-media interpretive centre just below the site of uMgungundlovu.
Amafa CEO Barry Marshall said: “The centre has been designed and is being built by the KwaZulu-Natal consortium, Vusilela. It will house audio-visual and historic displays, a restaurant, viewing tower, open amphitheatre and craft market.
‘It is intended to be the major tourist and educational drawcard to the eMakhosini Valley where most of the early Zulu kings are buried. The region is rich in Zulu, British and Boer history and has outstanding natural beauty.
“We hope to open the centre by next February.”