One would travel roughly 16 km from Kimberley on the road to Barkly West to find the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre. We arrived to be warmly greeted by Petrus Wilson who would be our guide, Petrus escorted us inside to a small cinema where we watched a short DVD on the site and it’s history before taking us across the veld to the rock koppie where most of the rock art is situated. The land is owned by the !Xun and Khwe San and is a declared heritage site run in conjunction with Kimberley’s Mc Gregor Museum.
The engravings are what are often referred to as’ Bushman rock art’ found in many areas of the south. Petrus described the technique as being” pecked” in which a hard stone was used to chip away the outer layer of the rock, the rock outcrops are ‘Andesite’ as opposed to the ‘Dolerite “outcrops further south in the Karoo. The same rocks make up the Driekopseiland art, which we visited later on. It is estimated that the engravings are anything between 1000 – 2000 years old, chosen sites may have had a spiritual reason and the art is not random, it has a religious significance to the people. Much of the art deals with spiritual realms and is special to local religious belief.
The engravings bear striking resemblances to much of the Bushman paintings that I have seen with a good deal of emphasis on mammals such as Elephant, Rhino and Eland as well as some dance scenes depicting “trance” dances. Various stakeholders have collaborated to preserve the rock art, in excess of 200 individual engravings are spread over the small hill. The area is, surrounded by land which is owned by the !Xun and Khwe San people and has been set aside for rock art conservation and education of the public.
Standing there under the African sun viewing art in this dry and desolate landscape is a moving experience, one can almost transport oneself back into time and hear the aged one’s at work!
As with all historical sites in South Africa (and in general);
Take photographs and memories, nothing else.
Wear appropriate footwear.
Wear a hat and use sunscreen.
Telephone: 053-8337069; or 082 2224777,
Postal address: Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, P.O. Box 316, Kimberley, 8300, South Africa.