The Moruleng Cultural Precinct


Since 2010 Totem Media has worked with the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, a dynamic, forward-looking Tswana community in the Pilanesberg, in developing the Moruleng Cultural Precinct.

The village of Moruleng lies to the northeast of the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa’s North West Province. It is the ancestral home of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela people.

The Moruleng Cultural Precinct is situated in the heart of the village, and is referred to by locals as Sediba sa Ngwao, or Well of Heritage. The precinct encompasses the innovative Mphebatho Museum, the newly restored Dutch Reformed Mission Church, a landscape of iron-age settlement patterns, an open air theatre, a craft centre and a coffee shop.

Some of the driving considerations of the project were the preservation and celebration of heritage, the promotion of education, community development, tourism growth, the promotion of careers in the heritage sector, job creation through the empowerment of local entrepreneurs, artists and crafters, and nation building. In light of this, Totem developed a heritage workers’ training programme specific to the needs of the Moruleng Cultural Precinct. We also developed a digital archive that will be managed by the Mphebatho Museum and ultimately housed in their New Library and Archive.

The Moruleng Cultural Precinct reflects the culture and history of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela community, and is symbolic of the future they are constructing. It is an approachable, accessible space that draws visitors in and inspires them to engage with the history and culture of a unique traditional community. Design speaks to content as visitors move between interior and exterior spaces, between age-old beliefs and traditions, and present-day realities.

The interior and exterior design of the Cultural Precinct draws extensively on traditional craft, skills and building methods, for instance dry stone walling and ceramic work. Much of the production involved local artisans and crafters drawing on age-old, almost forgotten traditions, thus enabling them to bring their knowledge into a modern context and pass on skills to a younger generation.

Working with the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela has been a fascinating journey of discovery and we feel confident that the Moruleng Cultural Precinct will not only benefit the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela community, but will offer a set of best practices for other southern African communities to follow. It is very rare indeed that rural communities have the resources and the political will to embark on projects like this. The Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela archive, museums and cultural precinct have the potential to lead the way for other communities, governments and policy makers.
 

 

 

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