Pictures of Mpumalanga’s Ndebele people often adorn posters and guide books to South Africa because of their dazzlingly painted traditional homesteads and colourful crafts. The Ndebele's vivid geometric designs and striking traditional clothing are amongst Africa’s most eye-catching, as you’ll discover when you visit one of Mpumalanga’s Ndebele villages.

Did you know?

The present Ndebele king, Makhoswonke ll, is one of South Africa’s six undisputed monarchs.

You may well have seen pictures of the brightly painted homesteads and colourful crafts of Mpumalanga’s Ndebele villages in magazines all over the world. When you visit a Ndebele village you'll see for yourself the vibrantly coloured geometric designs of their dwellings and dramatic traditional clothing.

The little town of Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga’s cultural heartland is home to the Kghodwana Cultural Village where you can follow the progress of the Ndebele from 1 000 years ago to today. The people in this region are linguistically related to KwaZulu-Natal’s Zulu tribe and the Ndebele of Zimbabwe.

Take a tour of the village, shop for stunning crafts such as bracelets, necklaces, mats woven of dry grass and beadwork-adorned gala blankets, visit one of the Royal Kraals and admire the heavy brass rings worn by married women around ankles and necks to display their wealth.

It's the Ndebele women who traditionally paint the vivid geometric designs of the homesteads, based on triangular and rectangular shapes. Skills are passed from mother to daughter and the shapes used are often inspired by their intricately fashioned beadwork.

Another Ndebele village well worth a visit is situated at the beautifully restored Botshabelo Mission Station where early South African Christians sought refuge and found education training from the mid-1800s. This Ndebele village is an open-air living museum of vibrant colour.

Admire the artwork of the huts, the glowing murals on internationally acclaimed Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu’s family homestead, the beaded aprons of the little girls, the glowing colours of blankets and beadwork, and chat to the married women about their spectacular clothing.

Thirsty after all this sight-seeing? Then pop over to the Loopspruit Wine Estate – South Africa’s northernmost vineyards – just across the road from the village.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Kghodwana Cultural Village
Tel: +27 (0)13 930 7046

Botshabelo Mission Station
Tel: +27 (0)13 245 9900/11

How to get here

Kghodwana Cultural Village is 32km north of Bronkhorstspruit, about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. To visit the Botshabelo Mission Station, take the N4 from Johannesburg or Pretoria, and then the R35 to Grobersdal. The Botshabelo sign is on the left 12km from Middelburg.

Best time to visit

Kghodwana Cultural Village is open Monday to Friday from 8am - 4pm. Botshabelo Mission Station is open from 6am - 6pm daily.

Get around

You’ll need a vehicle to get to the villages then it’s a walking tour.

Where to stay

There are self-catering units at Botshabelo

What to eat

Kghodwana Cultural Village will provide a traditional Ndebele meal if ordered at least three days in advance.

Best buys

Some of South Africa’s most colourful beadwork, arts and crafts.

Related articles