Must-see Cultural Attractions

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Friday, 14th October 2016

By: Michelle Colman

Tourism Update highlights not-to-be missed cultural attractions, as suggested by trade stakeholders.

A good starting point for an exploration of South Africa’s multi-cultures, and one that gets the vote of Laura Vercuil of Johannesburg Tourism, is the Origins Centre on the campus of Wits University in Johannesburg. Tracing an 80 000-year journey into the past, it highlights the earliest art and culture inspirations on the continent, as well as an exploration of San beliefs.

When talking cultural attractions,” says Gaongalelwe Tiro, GTA’s Manager: Communications, “Lesedi Cultural Village in Broederstroom immediately comes to mind. It gives visitors an insight into the diverse cultures of the people of South Africa. The attraction is within an hour’s drive of Johannesburg.”  Lesedi showcases the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele traditional ways of life.

But, as he further points out, modern, urban culture finds expression through cuisine, fashion and music. “Therefore, to take in the culture of the people Gauteng, one needs to traverse its streets and interact with them directly. Interacting with locals in Vilakazi Street, eating an authentically South African meal at a restaurant in Maboneng or visiting a nightspot in Mamelodi all help to immerse oneself in the culture of the people of Gauteng.”

Cultural villages are in fact found countrywide and include Shangana Cultural Village in Hazyview, Mpumalanga (Zulu and Tsonga cultures); Shakaland in KwaZulu Natal (Zulu culture) and the Basotho Cultural Village, Free State.

In the Western Cape, Wesgro’s Judy Lain advises looking into the San culture on view at !Kwha ttu San Culture and Education Centre. “Close to the coastal town of Yzerfontein, this education centre plays a fundamental role in preserving our oldest tribe, indigenous to South Africa,” she says.

More Western Cape recommendations from Lain are the new Mamre Heritage Walk north of central Cape Town, developed in collaboration with the Moravian Church, which is one of the country’s oldest; the Judah Square Tour in Knysna where tourists can sample Rastafarian life; the well-known District Six Museum in Cape Town and the Macassar Pottery Experience outside Cape Town, which starts at the kramat of Sheikh Yusuf, delves into community history including clay making and offers some musical experiences.

Zulu history and culture in all its facets is on display at the Ondini Historical Complex in KwaZulu Natal. It includes a reconstructed royal homestead and the KwaZulu Cultural Museum, housing a rich collection of Zulu craft and beadwork.  Near the town of Ulundi in the eMakhosini Valley or Valley of Zulu Kings, the complex can be woven into a tour of the Anglo-Zulu Battlefields.

Showcasing another cultural thread in KZN is Durban’s Victoria Street Market, where barrels of Indian spices and incense perfume the air above some 170 stalls selling African and Oriental products. The double-storey structure is topped by purple minarets resembling a maharajah's palace.

The National Arts Festival which takes place each July in the historic city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape is considered Africa’s largest arts festival. There’s a Fringe Festival running alongside and opportunities to view township performances. As reservations are always heavy, early booking is suggested.

Article and photos courtesy of Tourism Update. http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/article/114937/5159/Must-see-cultural-attractions-include-the-traditional-and-modern

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