The South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) celebrated it’s coming of age as it held another successful National Gold Panning Championship from October 3-6 in Pilgrim’s Rest. This year sees the 21st anniversary of both SAGPA and the annual national championships and speakers at the opening ceremony emphasised the need for this heritage sport to continue growing from strength to strength.
Dudu Manana, member of the Mpumalanga Legislature and herself a keen gold panner since 1998, delivered the keynote address on behalf of the MEC for the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation (DCSR). She encouraged SAGPA to continue drawing in more people to join the enthusiastic family of gold panners by taking the sport to different areas of the province.
Manana also thanked the people of Pilgrim’s Rest for their passion and dedication over the years. “We want to thank them for their continued support and we indeed value them as our strategic partners in growing gold panning,” said Manana. During the championships, locals were given the opportunity to provide the needed services and thus to earn a living.
Sanjay Singh, dedicated gold panner since the very beginning and now President of the World Gold Panning Association (WGA), pointed out that many of the skilled gold panners, now 18 and 20 years old, were born when it all started. “So when I look at the young kids here I know that South African kids are soon going to be on the world platform,” he said. “We are going to grow them and when we participate here we are going to show the rest of the world, take a look and watch how well our young South African panners are doing.”
Singh also thanked the DSCR, SAGPA and the people of Pilgrim’s Rest for believing in him and appealed to them for continued support. “Pilgrim’s Rest is a small little dot in the world and yet you are able to show South Africa and the world – We are here!”
Sherry Goodwin, Chairman of SAGPA, emphasised that South African gold panners were among the best when one considers their performance at this year’s World Gold Panning Championships. As part of growing the sport, SAGPA plans to continue its outreach program.