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Bakone Malapa Open Air Museum

Experience the warm hospitality and rich culture of the BaSotho people in the stylishly created Bakone Malapa Museum near Polokwane, Limpopo Province. The Bakone, a sub-group of the Northern Sotho cultural group, will be happy to introduce you to their contemporary customs and traditional way of life.

Just outside Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo province, the Bakone Malapa Museum is a showcase for the BaSotho culture. Two traditional homesteads house exhibits that explain much of the BaSotho's history.

The name Bakone is a Northern Sotho clan name taken from Bakone ba Matlala a’ Thaba who lived here in the 17th century, while Malapa is the Sotho word for homestead. Archaeological digs show that the Ndebele and the Shangaan also lived in the area, and evidence has been found of a Stone Age influence dating back 20 000 years.

The on-site cultural village offers visitors further insight into the Bakone people, a sub-group of the BaSotho. The village has been reconstructed in a style that was typical about 250 years ago. Run by several BaSotho who live in the village, the centre offers a warm and authentic welcome from people happy to share their current, as well as historic, way of life with you.

The organised tour of the Bakone Malapa Museum begins with a visit to an area recreating the modern ways of a BaSotho family. Here, within the lapa, you will see the separate thatched brick and mortar bedroom, kitchen and living room. Floors are still made from a mix of mud and cow dung, as they have been for hundreds of years. You will then be given a view of life as it was 250 years ago.

You can expect to learn how fire is made, how beer is brewed and how maize is ground. Handcraft demonstrations such as woodcarving, pottery, basketry and beadwork are popular and a craft shop sells locally produced crafts at a reasonable price.

Tours are conducted at set times throughout the day. Most guides are skilled in the African tradition of story telling and will answer all your questions about the cultural aspects of the life of the BaSotho.

9km from the city on the R37 to Lebowakgomo, Polokwane
+27 (0)15 295 2432