The renovated Masorini site, an archaeological treasure 11km from Phalaborwa towards Letaba Camp in Kruger, was officially opened on Thursday, June 3. Local community members and Kruger staff jointly undertook the meticulous restoration of the furnaces, huts, walkways and other display areas. "They worked in the most environmentally friendly manner possible," says Ben van Eeden, regional manager for the northern section in Kruger.
Staff often had to carry material and buckets of water and mud to the various sites, including the headman's hut near the top of the hill. Hoxi Andries Malatji, one of the leaders of the Ba-Palaborwa people, in his keynote address related the Malatji people's long association with the heritage site. He asked the Kruger management to consider renaming the site to 'Psyeni', the locally used version, meaning 'where iron ore is melted'. He praised the relevant parties for their contribution to the restorations and "reiterated the Ba-Palaborwa tribe's willingness to work with the Park, provided it is continuously consulted."
According to Sanparks, the Masorini village was originally restored in 1973 from nothing but stonewalls, grinding stones, potsherds and the remains of furnaces from the 19th century and some implements dating back to the Stone Age. Excavation work unveiled hut floors and other remains that helped experts unlock the cultural, traditional, social and economic history of the village inhabitants.
Masorini and related sites Shikumbu and Vudogwa are classified as part of the late Iron Age (1000 - 1850 AD) and are associated with the Mojelo, a sub-group of the Sotho speaking Ba-Palaborwa people. The senior headman stayed at Shikumbu, while the lesser chiefs lived at the other two hills. Visitors can get more information at the museum on site and enjoy a guided tour led by James Tsheoga. For more information call the People and Parks department at Letaba Camp, 013 735 6636.