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TThe Mphebatho Cultural Museum near Sun City in North West province, South Africa and its sister, the Phuthadikobo Museum in neighbouring state Botswana, are community-owned repositories that preserve and document the way of life of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela people, thereby capturing their essence for generations to come.
Established to preserve and showcase the culture and traditions of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela people, the community-owned Mphebatho Cultural Museum – which occupies a 1930s schoolhouse – offers travellers an overview of a traditional African way of life.
And by visiting the museum near Sun City in North West province, you’ll be helping the Bakgatla rediscover their identity, as they share their colourful history.
Today the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, of the Tswana people, comprise a community of 350 000 or so, split for historical reasons between Kgatleng in Botswana and Moruleng in North West province, South Africa. The museum documents their origins and culture, and the impact religion has had on their traditional way of life.
YYou will be immersed in the lives of the Bakgatla through photographic displays, folklore, clay pottery, artefacts, traditional attire and documentary evidence on display in the museum.
A sister museum to Mphebatho, the Phuthadikobo Museum, which also belongs to the community, is located in Mochudi, Botswana. Together, the museums illustrate how the Bakgatla have remained true to their roots over generations despite the distance that separates them.
Like many of Africa’s cultures and customs, the museum performs an educational function as much as anything else. By recording and preserving the lives of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, the museum helps to ensure that integral traditions are passed on to future generations to retain cultural identity
In order to preserve the cultural practices and tribal policies of their people, community leaders established the museum in 1999.
Among the founders was Mmakgotla Grace Masuku, who was responsible for sourcing artefacts from more than 30 Bakgatla villages. She also shared her comprehensive knowledge of customs, herbalism and conservation practised by her people over successive generations, so that these could be documented in perpetuity.
On special occasions and for large groups, the museum’s curators are prepared to organise traditional dancing, cultural activities and African cuisine. An outdoor boma is also available for traditional storytelling in the evenings.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mphebatho Cultural Museum
499 Moruleng Boulevard, Saulspoort
Tel: +27 (0)83 724 7770
How to get here
The Mphebatho Cultural Museum lies 25km from Sun City in the Bojanala district of North West province, at 499 Moruleng Boulevard in Saulspoort, off the R510.
Best time to visit
Temperatures in the region from December to February, the hottest months, are frequently higher than 30⁰C in the middle of the day. This is also the time of year that the Highveld receives most of its annual rainfall, in the form of often spectacular afternoon thundershowers. Visitors from more temperate climes, or those who don’t fare well in extreme heat, might prefer the milder, drier autumn and winter months, from March to August. For those who can handle the heat, the spring and summer months (September to February), are reliably dry and sunny through most of the day, with the rainfall, when it comes, coming in the late afternoon and through the evening, often accompanied by dazzling thunder and lightning shows along the Pilanesberg mountain range.
Things to do in the area
The Sun City gaming and entertainment world, which offers hotels in several price ranges plus a casino, golf course, wave pool and crocodile farm, is half-an-hour’s drive away, along a route that takes nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts through the Pilanesberg National Park, nestled in a long-extinct volcanic crater and home to the Big Five. Hot-air ballooning is a popular way to explore the national park. You can also stay in the reserve or visit it for a day or half a day.
What to pack
Adequate sun protection and comfortable walking shoes. Average daytime temperatures are between 16⁰C and 20⁰C from May to August (also some of the driest months of the year), with cold, clear-skied nights perfect for stargazing, so jackets, hats, and coats can be handy. From October to February, daytime temperatures almost always peak above 25⁰C, and evening cloud cover ensures that the nights remain warm too, despite the cooling effect of late-afternoon thundershowers.
What will it cost
Entry to the museum is R30 for adults and R20 for children.
If they're expecting your visit, local crafters will display their wares for sale outside the museum.