Starting the Birth-source and Birthplace of Humankind Reserves and their connecting Freshwater River Corridors with the Fountain River Earth Sanctuary Hennops
Taking the first steps in the larger project by starting with the River Sanctuaries, the focus here will be on more practical considerations. To initiate the process of restoring and protecting these Rivers from source, all of the five Rivers that originate on the Witwatersrand and potentially form part of the proposed Birth-Source River Reserve namely the Crocodile, Jukskei, Hennops, Klip and Apies Rivers should be protected by their own Sanctuaries and Reserves to preserve the water quality and restore their riparian zones. They can be administered by local groups and representatives familiar with the nature of their riverine areas and the problems, working to monitor and maintain water quality, restoring the original life and expanding the natural corridors.
These Sanctuaries can be partly run as Non-Profit Organisations and be sponsored by local stakeholders who will benefit from the clean water and the life-filled rivers such as hotels and tourist areas, or office parks near the water. Residents and businesses close to the river can contribute to help run the Sanctuaries or sponsor the maintenance of a specific stretch of the river that concerns them, to take care of the nature and keep it in a safe and pristine way, protected by local residents looking after the safety of the animals in these Wildlife corridors, the resident ones as well as those meandering through.
The designs for the Hennops Sanctuary are a first step to starting the project and can help to explain parts of it. They depict wish-fully a pristine river with some of the amazing riverine and grassland creatures that used to occur naturally in and around this River system, most of them are gone now, some only recently vanished. The majority have been wiped out by the pollution, only the countless crab holes still remaining in the riverbank now open to erosion to testify to the genocide of these huge populations. These filter feeders along with the freshwater mussels shrimp and micro-organism are vital in helping to clean the water. Without them these rivers could die- unable to clean themselves and building up dangerously high toxic levels causing all life to be lost, becoming very difficult to restore wastelands. This critical point is immanent after many years of very heavy raw- sewage spills shamefully polluting all these rivers, the Hennops until recently the cleanest in Gauteng, an ancient pristine ecosystem lost as part of the huge cost of the wasteful luxury of a waterborne sewerage system in a country as water stressed as ours.
The emblems made for this project serve as an example for taking an initial step towards starting the individual Sanctuaries for all the Rivers, all originating form the larger fresh water Birth-source Reserve on the Witwatersrand. The images can explain much about the concept, they are depictions of a Riverine world filled with the original and threatened life that needs to be restored inside these currently heavily polluted and denuded waterways that have become virtually lifeless with their banks invaded by alien growth. Some representative species of all the life that used to live in the riparian zones and adjoining grasslands are shown, animal groups are depicted that would occur in a healthy ecosystem containing large numbers of these and a variety of other animals, plants as well as the micro-organisms on which these ecosystems depend.
Animals are depicted that represent the Hennops River, the Eland is used for a symbol as some wild groups still occur in its lower parts inside the Hennopsriver-valley. Water buck are also found hereand used for the charcoal emblem, they always stay close to the water and would be a good species to meander through. Most of the endangered and endemic Grassland species are depicted in this image, like the large Wattled and Blue Cranes, the Grassland Owl, Half-collared Kingfisher, Rock Python, Fruit Bat, Bull-frog and Sable antelope as well as many more that would be found near the water and can be reintroduced to breed here again.
Aquatic creatures like the millions of frogs and crabs that have been wiped out need to be rehabilitated as an important part of the ecosystem as well as the threatened fish like the Large- mouth Yellow fish that used to occur mainly in this river system. Terrapins are hardly seen here anymore and before the recent deluge of pollution there were still Otters and Water-mongooses in parts of the Hennops, all these animals need to be reintroduced to balance the web of life along with the filtering and microbial life that cleans the water and forms the basis of the riverine ecosystems.
The images zoom in from a larger perspective aerial view depicting the sources of the Rivers on the Witwatersrand with one Image specifically for dealing with the crucial task of Source Healing- looking after the fountains where the Rivers originate and keeping the Wetlands they flow through in a pristine and life–filled condition. In a closer view the next image shows the three main streams that form the Hennops river, it also stand for the three rivers that merge coming together in the proposed Birth-place Reserve at the bottom of their river courses.
The central motifs are symbols adapted from petroglyphs of Credo Mutwa who would be a good patron for this Sanctuary because of his involvement in the spiritual aspects of the river and his long stay in the Hennops Valley. The central images of overlapping circles stand for abundance- which will be created when life is restored to the river system while the diamond motif refers to the Goddess of Creation or Mother Source represented by the life-giving river and her timeless fountain sources bringing life here to all.
The wings becoming hands point to the helping hand humans can give to this natural freshwater system. The insides of our hands being all of the same colour show the unity within the diversity of humankind, illustrating how we can work together to create harmony and do good by repairing these vibrant eco-systems of the shared Birthplace of our species. To nurture the nature that gave life to our kind, and that will ensure us a healthy future to live in harmony with our planet.
The Fountain River Earth (Environmental) Sanctuary Hennops –FRESH has been formed recently for the River specifically for this project to help implement it and to give representation to the lower part of the Hennops River where there was none. FRESH has been registered as an NGO with the founding papers of the project enshrined in its constitution, and with a registered website. The idea is to approach local businesses that have a stake in the Hennops for instance the Mercedes head- office and some local hotels to help fund aspects of the project in collaboration with the Government. If Municipalities can sort out their sewage problems permanently and the Government can deal with the invasive species and clear aliens perhaps with a special task force collaborating with Working for Water. Rubbish and illegal dumping problems can be sorted out with recycling centres strategically located where problems exist to give a livelihood to some.
After this the restoration of life to our rivers can become a reality, the natural life can slowly be brought back and we can reclaim our lost Eden through these ancient rivers with their life-filledwaterways. The huge task can be undertaken of invasive alien removal and replacing with indigenous species while controlling severe weed infestations to restore the riverbanks.
Safeguarding the remnants of our first ancestors and their long Ages along these life-giving water- ways where their living spaces and stone tools are still preserved. Their deftly shaped highly skilled stone-tools incorporating even curved facets in a great variety of shapes and of different stone lie here as testimony to their complex peaceful way of life and long association with these life- giving water sources, living here in apparent harmony with nature over countless generations. The banks contain the clues that must be protected while the lost first heritage of Humankind is safeguarded for posterity in a living museum where our origin and past can come to life again.
At strategic places such as at Centurion Lake information centres can be made dealing with this history as well as the Riverine ecology, the Grassland ecosystems and Human evolution and prehistory in relation to this environment that shaped our bodies and beings. A showcase for the River Sanctuary to educate the public and inspire a feeling of wonder in this perennial Freshwater system flowing through as it has done over countless millennia, the constant life-force that made the birth and evolution of mankind possible, a place where humankind can return to their own source inside this ancient ecosystems of our origin that will be flourishing once again with similar creatures to those of our first ancestors in a timeless natural world.
A Freshwater aquarium in Johannesburg, with a museum, information and
cultural centre becoming the headquarters for the Birth-Source Park and
Proposal for the headquarters of the larger Birth-source River Park incorporating a cultural centre, museum and freshwater aquarium is envisaged that can be created near one of the fountain sources of the Braamfontein-spruit in the derelict old Gassworks buildings in Millpark. This highly polluted biohazard site where large scale dumping of coal by-products from the old gas process was done in the past has been an ongoing and a severe cause of pollution for decades into the upper river system. This problem will have to be sorted out as all the effluent of the site is seeping into this part of the Spruit near its origin, the stream runs partly inside old pipes and the pollution is seeping through the seams, in other areas the stream is open and large amounts of pollution is being washed into it when it rains.
A restoration project should be started here as this site hampers the whole project and to prevent further damage downstream. This rehabilitation as well as upgrading can be done by the Reserve in exchange for the use of the site, or perhaps it can be claimed by the people for all the damages caused to their wetlands and freshwater system over the years. Perhaps it can be donated to the Park by Egoli Gas to be utilised for the greater good of Humankind.
The derelict old industrial buildings can be restored as a museum of our origin and river heritage, exploring our connection with this freshwater system that gave life to our species. A cultural centre for the natural unity of Humankind and the nature that shaped our species over the long ages of our pre-history, it can house an exhibition space and information centre as well as the administrative centre of the park. A research centre for the endangered aquatic and Grassland species, for water security and the nature of human origin, in collaboration with Wits university and the University of Johannesburg as it is situated between the two institutions it can become a scholarly and educational as well as cultural hub for the dawn of Humankind and its formative nature. Ideas like the aquatic ape theory can be reconsidered in the context of these streams.
Located next to the fountain stream it has been polluting this spring- water can be used in the Aquarium and in the breeding centre set up for the threatened riverine and animal life that can be released directly into the stream to repopulate these and other rivers denuded of life. The site already comprises of many concrete dams while the old industrial buildings would be ideal for an aquarium when restored with large fish tanks and internal spaces to become one of the premier attractions of Johannesburg, a place where people from all over the world can come and share and celebrate their common freshwater grassland fountain origin.
Functioning as a showcase for the Birth-source Fountain reserve along the Witwatersrand and as a place where the separate Sanctuaries can come together at their shared source. Johannesburg can find a more natural identity by embracing its role as the true Mother-city of Humankind situated on these river sources that gave life to our first ancestors and nurtured the long evolution of mankind, to claim its place as the Birthplace of Humankind and the possible site for the lost Garden of Eden at the source of these lost Rivers of Paradise.
In collaboration with the Origin centre at Wits University next to this site and on whose grounds the fountain originates, an open-air park can be made at the strong fountain source that has been capped under a sports field in the old Sturrock Park. This historical fountain eye could be opened up and restored to become an Origin park and a focal point of the River reserve. An indigenous garden could surround the fountain area filled with natural life. A walking trail can connect along the restored stream with the proposed museum and further on into the river reserve, a precious source on one side of the Braamfontein-sptuit running open and free again. The project can revitalise this whole run-down old industrial area to make it a life filled central attraction to place the City and this reserve of Humankind on the world map.
The headquarters of the Braamfontein-spruit and Jukskei river Sanctuary
as well as a cultural centre and contemporary art gallery in Greenside
The old Bowling club bordering Greenside and Parkhurst has been empty for many years, this site bordering two streams and straddles a large open field that was an old land-fill and connects to an existing park where the two streams that are tributaries of the Braamfontein-spruit from both sides merge nearby. As tributaries of the Jukskei and Klein-Jukskei this site is ideally located to become the administrative headquarters of these rivers and their respective Sanctuaries.
Its central location would make it an ideal place to start a cultural centre and non-commercial art gallery dealing nature and with issues relating to the Freshwater Reserve and of Human origin. The public can be informed here about the reserve and restoration and clean-up projects can be run from here as well as guided walks along the streams and interaction with the upper part of the reserve. The cultural activity here will enliven this whole currently unused open space.
Being an old dump-site the flat bare area can be rehabilitated with tree planting indigenous gardens for herbal and peoples plants. Open-air sculptures and land-art can aid the restoration of the site and can turn it into an important and beautiful Cultural and Origin Park providing interaction with the streams and the proposed Sanctuaries and reserves. A showcase for environmental and land art exhibited on the outside, while more delicate artworks can be exhibited inside the hall of the old Bowling club renovated as a cutting edge contemporary art gallery, giving artists working with environmental issues and outside of the commercial sphere a space and voice, to break the stranglehold of the commercial galleries suffocating much of our creative endeavour. Cultural activities and outdoor events, music and film screenings can be hosted on a non-profit basis with funds going towards restoration projects in the Birth-source and Birthplace Park as well as the River Sanctuaries.
A healing centre with fresh fruit and a juice bar can give people proper dietary and nutritional advice as well as natural and herbal remedies along with an indigenous herb garden. A food garden can teach about permaculture and organic farming with perhaps an eating and picnic area. A farmers market with organic produce and a flea market could be held here on some weekends.
The area can become the environmental and cultural hub of Johannesburg and educate about the River life, Grassland ecosystems and our Freshwater resources, stimulating an interest in the Sanctuaries and Reserves while acting as information centre for the Parks, featuring displays on the history of the fountains and streams as well as the related pre-history and early hominid times. The formation of this city on the ancient area of this granite dome on which Johannesburg is situated, the Kaapvaal Craton and the Witwatersrand basin with its inland sea and early life can be presented in displays stimulating an interest in this geologically important ancient area on the edge of the Vredefort impact crater. The sources of the rivers and the watershed, as well as the underground water and Dolomitic Karst system can be shown, perhaps in ecological architectural structures also showing the habitation of early man compared with their modern-day descendants.