Bakone Malapa Museum

At the Bakoni Malapa Museum outside Polokwane (Pietersburg), the lifestyle of the Bakoni of Matlala, one of the three groups constituting the Northern Sotho, has been recreated in a living open-air museum. The 12 structures erected here, reflecting the life style of a man with three wives. They are occupied by men and women engaged in such activities as manufacturing grain baskets and clay pots, making furniture and utensils from wood, preparing hides for skin• rugs and clothing, and household tasks such as beer-brewing and grinding maize. A hiking trail has been laid out across the koppie behind the museum, where hikers can view 17 species of indigenous trees as well as several archaeological relics recalling the presence of inhabitants thousands of years before the arrival of the Northern Sotho. The site is of great archeological significance. Various groups made their home at the foot of this koppie over many thousand of years. The University of the Witwatersrand excavated the site in 1980 and provided fascinating information about the life styles of the Stone Age people living here between 20 00 and 50 000 years ago. There is evidence of this in the numerous Middle and Later Stone Age implements that have been discovered on the site. A rock engraving was found at the southern foot of the koppie, indicating the presence of the San hunter-gatherers at some stage. It is believed that the Northern Ndebele lived here from around 1600 to 1650 and that they melted both copper and iron on the site. Fifty years later the Northern Sotho succeeded them. From about 1850 Tsonga-Shangaan people (who finally moved away in about 1900) occupied the site.

The huts that presently form part of the reconstructed kraal were built using traditional methods employed by the Northern Sotho some 250 years ago.

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