Vil­lage a re­flec­tion of SA her­itage

Meet­ing place of dif­fer­ent cul­tures of­fers in­sight, ra­di­ates pride

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS - AMANDA MALIBA

WALK­ING into Lesedi Cul­tural Vil­lage in Broed­er­stroom, out­side Joburg, one is trans­ported for­ward and back­wards to Lim­popo, KwaZulu-Na­tal, the Eastern Cape and all the way to Le­sotho’s ru­ral ar­eas where cow dung and smoke mix in the air af­ter the live­stock has been brought home and women start pre­par­ing meals for the evening. The vil­lage was set up in 1993, and the founders went back to the ru­ral South African re­gions to bring back in­di­vid­u­als who could recre­ate an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence of Mzansi’s rich her­itage. Lesedi Cul­tural Vil­lage houses all of South Africa’s her­itage un­der one roof, cre­at­ing an ed­u­ca­tional space with an­i­mal kraals, tra­di­tional meet­ing places meant for the men, rep­re­sen­ta­tions of King Shaka Zulu’s fortress and King Moesheshoe’s peace­ful vil­lage, among other things. Vis­i­tors get to learn about the im­por­tance of cows in the Zulu king­dom as they per­tain to wealth and lobola; the im­por­tance of be­ing dressed cor­rectly to iden­tify mar­ried and sin­gle women; ways of pre­par­ing meals while the men hunt and bring home the meat, and also the dif­fer­ence in smok­ing pipes for men and women. “What I can tell you is that the born-frees don’t re­ally know where they come from, or our cul­ture. So, mainly here we want to try to pre­serve that her­itage while en­cour­ag­ing our kids to come and see where we come from, where we are and where we are go­ing,” says Lloyd Mo­eng, the gen­eral man­ager of the es­tab­lish­ment. He also adds that as much as we (as a peo­ple) want to evolve with time, we can­not for­get our his­tory, lest we lose our iden­tity. “Without such places, I think we would be a lost na­tion. “If you don’t know your his­tory, in our jar­gon we say you are like a ze­bra without stripes. “Most of the time, we are try­ing to pro­mote other peo­ple’s cul­tures but not our own. So, it is very im­por­tant that we still pre­serve what we have while we come up with in­no­va­tive ways of pro­mot­ing our cul­ture. It shouldn’t be stag­nant,” says Mo­eng.

The ex­pe­ri­ence – from first watch­ing the ed­u­ca­tional videos to tour­ing the four vil­lages where you see its in­hab­i­tants dressed in colour­ful at­tire and speak­ing “non-con­tam­i­nated” ver­nac­u­lar, and the danc­ing and the cel­e­bra­tion – be­comes a re­minder of how rich the African soil is; full of his­tory, mean­ing and so many sto­ries to tell.

“When I started here about three years ago, I found that 60% of vis­i­tors were for­eign­ers, with only 40% be­ing lo­cals, but nowa­days we are rev­ers­ing this whole thing. A lot of South Africans are com­ing to visit us, and what is more en­cour­ag­ing is that they come with their kids,” says Mo­eng.

WITHOUT SUCH PLACES, WE WOULD BE A LOST NA­TION

PIC­TURE: KAREN SANDISON/ANA

LOOK­ING THE PART: Em­brac­ing South Africa’s cul­tural iden­tity is what the Lesedi Cul­tural Vil­lage strives for.

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