Original Research

A narrative interpretation of the cultural impressions on water of the communities along the Vaal River, Parys, Free State

Tribute J. Mboweni, Engela P. De Crom
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 12, No 1 | a345 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v12i1.345 | © 2016 Tribute J. Mboweni, Engela P. De Crom | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2016 | Published: 31 October 2016

About the author(s)

Tribute J. Mboweni, Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Engela P. De Crom, Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Abstract

This article is about the significance of the Vaal River for the communities inhabiting the area. Using the interpretation of narratives and rituals, the extent of the connection or disconnection between the communities and the aquatic environment is described. Traditional rituals, religious practices and beliefs associated with the river form an important part of the lives of people living in the area. Results show that industrial development and urbanisation have direct implications not only on the environment but also on the cultural lives and practices of the communities in the areas where these occur. Because of its impact on the environment, development has a direct impact on the people who depend on the environment for both their physical and spiritual well-being. Any form of sustainable development needs to put these factors into consideration for development to truly be sustainable. In addition to forming a part of Environmental Impact Assessment prior to any development, the infringement of the cultural significance and the meanings that local communities have attached to aquatic landscapes should come with stringent legal consequences.

Significance of work: Over the past years, the cultural connection between communities in Parys and the Vaal River area has been influenced by the effects of industrialisation, urbanisation and other anthropogenic factors that stem from these. This study found that there is a range of cultural rituals and beliefs that form part of the everyday lives of many residents of the communities in Parys. The significance of this study lies in recognising the importance of aquatic environments for the cultural health of communities and that, prior to development, developers who aim for sustainable development need to adhere to the National Heritage Resources Act, Act No. 25 of 1999. The Act includes the protection of sites of cultural significance to a community, and this involves the Vaal River. In addition to forming a part of the Environmental Impact Assessment prior to any development, infringement of the cultural significance and the meanings that local communities attach to aquatic landscapes should come with stringent legal consequences. The study also emphasises that it is important to realise that one cannot continue to isolate natural science from social science in debating what is sustainable.


Keywords

culture; intangible cultural heritage; rituals; ceremonies; narratives; Vaal River; Parys; Vredefort Dome

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