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CULTURE

South Africa offers an unrivalled diversity of culture and cultural tours offer an introduction to past and present cultures.

Within the last ten years, tourists have expressed a growing interest in learning more about the culture and traditions of the local people. Cultural villages have been established which offer an introduction to the history and traditional lifestyle of the various ethnic groups.

The Basotho Cultural Village ( Free State )
Situated about 20 km from the Golden Gate National Park, this village preserves the traditions of the Basotho people. It is possible to view evolution of the Basotho hut from the 16th century to present day. Tribesmen wear traditional dress to depict the lifestyle of the South Sotho. Guests interact with the ngaka, the traditional healer and can sip local beer.

Kaya Lendaba ( Eastern Cape )
Meaning "The Place of Creative Enlightening Talk", it is possible to observe a performance of traditional rituals and receive and introduction to the medicinal uses of indigenous African plants and visit a healing cave. Also discussed are the use and powers of divining bones and African astrology.

Kosi Bay (Kwa Zulu Natal)
A community owned tourism camp has been established around the house where David Webster, an anthropologist who was assassinated by one of the apartheid government's death squads, did extensive field work during the 1980s.

Shakaland (Kwa Zulu Natal )
Built as the set for the movie Shaka Zulu, the site contains a Zulu kraal dating back to King Shaka's time. There are 40 huts making up the umuzi (village). A tour offers an introduction to the traditions, clothing and history of the Zulu people and includes tribal dancing, spear making, a beer drinking ceremony and a visit with the Sangomas (withdoctor). The village also offers comfortable accommodation consisting of traditional beehive huts with all the mod cons, including en-suite bathrooms. The

Botshabelo and the South Ndebele Museum(Mpumalanga)
A traditional Ndebele village portrasy a century-old culture which probably no longer exists in its original form. It provides demonstrations of traditional artwork forms, including beadwork, weaving and the famous Ndebele hut painting.

Lesedi Cultural Village ( Gauteng )
Less than an hour's drive from Johannesburg, a kaleidoscope of African cultures awaits you. This multi-cultural African village set amongst the pristine bushveld and rocky hills offers an introduction to the lifestyle of several African cultures. Typical rural households from Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi and Basotho villages have been reconstructed.

Worcester Open Air Museum (Worcester)
This living museum portrays the life style of the early pioneer farmers. Each building is representative of a certain agricultural industry in the Western Cape during the period 1690 to 1900.

The unique cultural historical value of the Open Air Museum lies in the fact that it not only preserves early architecture and articles of use in agricultural and home industries, but also keeps these activities and industries alive. This includes:
- blacksmithing (making old-fashioned hinges, candle holders etc), - bread baking in the outside oven where stone-ground flour milled in the water-mill is used
and tobacco rolling in the tobacco shed using Virginia tobacco, planted and cured on the premises.

For a glimps of present day life and culture, there are many tours into the different townships around the country.

Around Cape Town
Take a tour to one of the townships of Nyanga, Langa, Gugulethu, Crossroads or Khayelitsha, where you can see how people live, visit historic sites mostly relevant to the days of apartheid, shop in the open air markets, enjoy a drink at a shebeen (township tavern) and possibly consult a sangoma ( traditional healer ).

Another interesting place to visit is the Bo-Kaap, Previously called the ”Malay Quarter“, this area housed the many slaves brought out, mainly from Java, in the 17th and 18th Centuries The picturesque Bo-Kaap is home to a community of Cape Malays or Coloureds who were not subjected to forced removals during the apartheid era.

Around Johannesburg
Probably the most well known of South Africa’s townships is Soweto, famous for its opposition to apartheid. A Soweto tour, offers insight into South African township life, the food, music and vibrancy of this city from squatter camps to millionaires mansions. Attractions include the Hector Pietersen Memorial and Museum, Regina Mundi Church, the Avalon Cemetery, the Mandela Museum and the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown

Around Durban
This city is home to the largest population of Indians outside of India. These are made up of descendants of indentured labourers who decided to stay in South Africa and the wealthier classes who came as immigrants and incorporate both Muslim and Hindus. It is possible to take a tour of the many mosques and temples, Indian Market and enjoy some of the excellent food.

Museums
South Africa has many museums, some of the highlights include:
Nelson Mandela Museum Umtata, Eastern Cape
CP Nel Museum – Oudshoorn, Western Cape
Museums and Historic Places – Kimberley, Northern Cape
Afrikaans Language Museum – Paarl, Western Cape
Pilgrims Rest Historic Gold Town – Mpumalanga
Castle of Good Hope – Cape Town, Western Cape
Moffat Museum- Kuruman, Northern Cape
Shipwreck Museum-Bredasdorp, Western Cape
Smuts House Museum - Pretoria, Gauteng
Sammy Marks Museum - Pretoria, Gauteng
South African Museum – Cape Town, Western Cape
The Drostdy Museum – Swellendam, Western Cape
The Olive Schreiner House – Cradock, Eastern Cape

Arts
The many cultures have given birth to diverse and creative art forms. Theatre, dance, opera, cabaret, fine art, craft art, classical music, jazz, township music, poetry readings, every art form can be found in the major cities and towns of the country.
The National Arts Festival held every year in Grahamstown is the largest of its kind in Africa.
Many other local festivals take place during the year around the country

 

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