Cultural Light of South Africa
March 19th, 2016
I had arrived in the last country of my four-country tour of Africa exhausted and longing for the comforts of home. Living out of a suitcase and traveling to a different country every four or five days had taken its toll on my mental frame of mind. Johannesburg, South Africa, was the last stop on my itinerary and I had planned on doing a city tour and to visit the Lesedi Cultural Village on my second day. All the activities of my previous days had forced me to take a day of rest and I cancelled my city tour during my first day in the city. I enjoy learning about old cultures so I kept the Lesedi Cultural Village appointment on the second day.
Lesedi is a Sotho word that means “light” and since culture is considered the light of the South African nation, it was only proper to call this village Lesedi. The cultures of the Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Sotho and Ndebele tribes are represented here. Lesedi has camps that reconstruct what their villages would have looked like hundreds of years ago. Lesedi attempts to allow visitors to immerse themselves in the history of these tribes. I took a tour that included a walk through these miniature villages with knowledgeable guides that will inform you of why the fire pits are split into four sections and how important cow dung is to these people. The fire is moved according to the direction of the wind and the four-sided pit can block the wind from any direction. Cow dung has many uses in their culture from forming the walls of their dwelling and making pottery, mixed with mud in both occasions. You can learn how they greet one another and different traditions in dance and clothing. The tour concludes with performances of traditional dances of each group of people.
Lesedi could definitely be considered a tourist trap but for an anthropology geek like myself, it was worth a visit. The highlight was walking through the village of the famed Zulu tribe and learning about the tribe that once stood up to the British Empire and held their own. The Village is a reminder of the cultures that once ruled and now construct the fabric of their nation.
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