Bakoni Ruins

Archaeological / Landmarks / Miscellaneous in or near Machadodorp, Highlands Meander in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Mpumalanga Tourist AttractionsBakoni Ruins

Where? Machadodorp, Mpumalanga

Overnight? Stay in Machadodorp, in Mpumalanga

In the hills around Machadodorp - an unremarkable town on the edge of the escarpment, also known as eNtokozweni, or Place of Happiness where today there is a huge toll plaza - are the remains of a series of stone terraces generally regarded as walls built by the baKoni tribe to retain pasture animals - sheep and cattle.

Just how old these structures are is anyone’s guess, as they have not been thoroughly researched or excavated. They could be anywhere between 25 000 and 250 000 years old.

Archaeologists and historians know very little about the Bakoni ruins. The Bakoni people are referred to not in any written form, but in oral history, and are considered by local archaeologists as different groups of people, with different origins, who arrived across a period of time. They became collectively known as ‘the people from the North’ - Bokoni.

We do know that the structures on the hillsides and beyond were built long before the colonisation of South Africa, and that they were used for advanced farming techniques.

The sheer size and position of the stone retaining walls they built across the escarpment is thought to have been crucial to the success of their farming system. But the relative similarity of the walls across hundreds of kilometres does suggest an established society, as archaeologist Beinart proposes when he speaks of a ‘settled society with social and cultural continuity over time’.

The 1800s brought colonisation and the Bakoni went from being a ‘functioning, diverse community’ to a ‘conforming, uniform one’. Many were absorbed into the Pedi, Swazi and Ndebele tribes.

An entirely different hypothesis, held by Michael Tellinger, proposes that these terraces are far older. His esoteric hypothesis suggests they were built to create huge amounts of energy to find and extract gold from mines for people from another planet who arrived on earth in search of gold (the Annunaki).

Regardless of which explanation you choose to believe, the Bakoni Ruins are fascinating. Contact local tour guides for more.

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