Did you know?
The nearby Polokwane Art Museum displays more than 800 works, many of them produced locally.
The Sculpture Art Park in Polokwane, the capital city of Limpopo province, is full of artistic and cultural surprises. It is said that Polokwane has more public sculptures per capita in its parks than any other South African city.
Polokwane was once known as Pietersburg, a stronghold of the then-ruling white Afrikaner group known as the Boers – so there are still many statues celebrating the deeds of various Boer leaders.
But as you wander around the city’s Sculpture Art Park, pay special attention to two sets of sculptures. The fact that they occupy space in a single park is culturally significant, for they celebrate the music of two former rival groups: indigenous African people and the Boers.
First, we stop at The Boy with the Penny Whistle, a simple piece of art that has captured a young township musician. Initially known in urban South Africa as ‘penny-whistle jive’, this new music form later became known as Kwela.
It began in the rural areas with young cattle herders playing three-holed reed flutes. When they grew into manhood and moved to the cities, they ‘urbanised’ their sound with six-holed flutes.The sound became a popular street music form and was later brought to the mainstream by South African bands like Mango Groove.
Not far from the penny-whistler stands a bunch of dandy gents who represent – in statue form – the archetypal boereorkes (Boer orchestra).
You will still find a boereorkes playing in small towns, and at private weddings, public functions attended by Afrikaners and at festivals around the country. These include groups like the Klipwerf Orkes from Calvinia in the Northern Cape, which has sold more than a million albums locally, and is still in great demand.
Look a little closer at the double-bass player and, if you’ve spent time in the South African music scene, you’ll recognise Rod Dry of the Silver Creek Mountain Band, a Karoo-based bluegrass group still playing after 40 years.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board
Tel: +27 (0)15 293 3600
How to get here
Polokwane is about 360km north of Johannesburg on the N1. Set aside about four hours for the drive.
Best time to visit
Polokwane is a jacaranda city in spring (September/October), when the weather is temperate.
Around the area
It’s worthwhile visiting the Bakone Malapa Northern Sotho Open-Air Museum, 9km from Polokwane on the Chuniespoort road. There are also many game reserves around the city.
Tours to do
From Polokwane, you should visit Mapungubwe to the north-west, Tzaneen to the north-east and the northern section of the Kruger National Park.
You will probably need to drive yourself, or you may be passing through Polokwane on a bus tour, in which case you should ask to see the park.
What will it cost
Entrance is free.
Length of stay
It’s worth spending a day in Polokwane.
What to pack
You’re in a sub-tropical zone here, so pack light clothes.
Where to stay
There are plenty of overnight places in Polokwane – check the Limpopo Tourism website for details.
What to eat
There are some good restaurants in Polokwane, and at some of these you might come across the ‘Limpopo Special’: fried mopani worms.
Check the Limpopo Tourism website for happenings during your visit.
Shweshwe cloth, from vendors in the city. Just ask your guide to help you find a good deal.