Tribal Life at the Bakone Malapa Museum

Situated about 9 kilometers outside Polokwane, the capital city of the Limpopo Province in South Africa, the Bakone Malapa Museum invites visitors to take a step back in time and explore a traditional Bakone tribal village as it existed about 250 years ago. This open-air living museum gives visitors the opportunity to gain insight into the background and history of the Bakone people who are a sub-group of the Northern Sotho tribe.

Bakone Malapa literally means “Bakone Homestead”, and the village, set on the original site of an ancient village, has been superbly reconstructed in the traditional Northern Sotho way. To enhance the experience of this journey back in time, visitors can interact with members of the Bakone tribe as they go about their daily lives. Demonstrations of traditional fire making, maize grinding and beer brewing can be seen throughout the day. The Bakone are very skilful in traditional craft-making and visitors can watch them manufacture pottery, wood carving, bead work, traditional clothing, grass weaving, drum-making, hunting weapons and basketry. A craft shop in the Bakone Malapa Museum sells these traditional hand-made items at very reasonable prices and they make perfect gifts to take to friends and family back home.

Tours are conducted at various set times throughout the day and the guides are gifted story-tellers. They are informative when it comes to the ancient culture and history of the Bakone and they put their message across in an entertaining way. Two lapas (homesteads) in the Bakone Malapa Museum contain exhibits that give details of the Bakone’s long and interesting history.

Archeological excavations have been carried out in the area around the Bakone Malapa Museum and evidence, including nearby rock paintings, has led researchers to conclude that this area was first occupied by the San tribe quite some time before being occupied by the Bakone.

In addition to the Bakone Malapa Museum, other places of interest to visit around Polokwane include the Polokwane Game Reserve, Chuene Crocodile Farm, Anglo-Boer War Concentration Camp, Eersteling Monuments, Makapansgat Caves, Modjadji Rainforest, Moletzie Bird Sanctuary, Voortrekker Memorial and the Hugh Exton Photographic Museum, which features the early life of the town of Polokwane (previous known as Pietersburg).

South Africa is a prime tourist destination with countless places of interest to explore. Visitors to the Bakone Malapa Museum can catch a glimpse into the culture and history of some of the people that contribute to the diversity of this beautiful country.