A visit to Bakone Malapa Open Air Museum
South Africa is such a beautiful country and this beauty is shared from city to city but don’t be fooled, the experiences are very different. Having been to different parts of the country I never seize to get blown away by the cultural differences. This prompted my visit to the Limpopo province to spend some days in Polokwane. The highlight of the visit being what I have always wanted to do, visiting the Bakone Malapa Open Air Museum.
To me this picture encompasses all that there is to learn about the Bakone Royal homestead. At the back drop you see the mountain which has great significance to any royal house.
The narration goes that the mountain served as a place of safety for the family should there be any attacks directed at the royal house. It also served as a perfect elevation to spot the enemy from afar, this then would give the soldiers ample time to prepare and strike the unsuspecting enemy first.
Learning from different tribes also reveals a lot about patriarchy and how it is worse in some areas than others. The rondavell looking structure was a place where man would have their meetings, what you do not know is that women were not allowed in there. The only time they were allowed to sat foot in it was when it was time to clean it. This is the place where young man were tested of their manhood and readiness to take wives. This was done through a series of activities that they had to carry out. These activities included starting fire with sticks made out of the Indigenous Baobab tree roots. The trick is that one should ensure that he uses roots from the same tree.
The kraal built out of stone is one of the sacred areas in the black culture in general which by default is the same for the Bakone people. This is the place where the traditional rituals are carried out and again there are restrictions to women. In the olden days it was used as a storage place where all the mealies were stored after harvest using a special kind of a basket which also serves as a cooling place to preserve the grains.
Right at the foot on the mountain is the royal houses, theses houses are positioned in the manner of importance, the main house at the centre being that of the main wife (Queen).
Next to the Queens house is her sisters house, who will take over from her should anything happen to her. Strategically positioned behind the Queens house is the house of the royal healer who is said to be protecting the homestead from the evil spirits.
Though the Bakone Royal Place have had some additional buildings, a huge part of the establishment has been kept as is to preserve it’s natural form. Therefore, the special traditional art work in the houses has not been changed since they have been built.
This is a great place to learn about ancient history as there are also a variety of demonstrations that one will observe when visiting this place such as the activities a man will have to perform before he can be chosen a wife. Yes, back then the elders chose the wives for their sons and everyone had to follow tradition and no questions asked……ENJOY!