Village a reflection of SA heritage
Meeting place of different cultures offers insight, radiates pride
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
LOOKING THE PART: Embracing South Africa’s cultural identity is what the Lesedi Cultural Village strives for.