Tour the Free State’s Basotho Cultural Village

Posted on 8 February 2021

South Africa is a melting pot of culture. There are numerous people groups in our country and each has its own traditions, customs, beliefs and history.

The Basotho group forms part of the Sotho peoples in South Africa and is comprised of Batswana (western Sotho), Bapedi (northern Sotho) and Basotho (southern Sotho). These all fall under the Bantu peoples which is inclusive of four groups: Sotho, Nguni, Tsonga and Venda.

Basotho Cultural Village in the Free State has preserved the rich history of the Basotho people from the 16th century until today, situated about 30 kilometres from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Here’s a little inside look into the Village tour:

Tour the Free State's Basotho Cultural Village

An outside view of the Basotho Cultural Village.

1. Music is used to signal strangers approaching the village

Prior to touring the village, visitors need to get permission from the Chief to enter. As you walk towards the chief’s ‘khotla’ or court to ask for his permission, you will begin to hear music played by a man sitting very high on a rock. He is a ‘sehloela’ or a look-out, and signals to the chief that strangers are approaching his court.

2. The chief’s welcome using Basotho beer

Welcoming by the Chief using Basotho traditional beer.

Upon arrival at the gate at the chief’s court, you will have to announce who you are and what the purpose of the visit is, which a tour guide will do on the group’s behalf. Once this has been done, visitors will be allowed to enter after which the chief will offer Basotho beer as a welcome token into his village. Guests are required to take a sip to show politeness. Once everyone has sipped the beer, the chief will then give access to tour his village.

3. A visit to the ‘Ngaka’, the chief’s traditional healer

The ‘ngaka’ looking into the future using bones

The next stop of the guided tour is at the chief’s traditional healer or ‘Ngaka’. Here you have an opportunity to ask for a consultation, and the healer will throw the bones and tell you about your future.

4. Visit the chief’s private bedroom

The chief’s regalia

Visitors will get the opportunity to visit the chief’s bedroom too. The chief has multiple wives whom he visits on different days, however, he has his own bedroom where he sleeps. In this bedroom, expect to see the different animal skins which he uses for different occasions. There are also different types of weapons and hats on display. The tour guide will then explain what each item is used for and when it is used.

5. Enjoy ‘dipabi’ and ‘motoho’ at the first and second wives’ homes

The home of the first wife.

Each of the chief’s wives has her own home. Visitors will enjoy ‘dipabi’ and ‘motoho’ at the first and second wives’ homes. ‘Dipabi’ is finely crushed corn mixed with salt and sugar. ‘Motoho’ is a fermented sorghum porridge, making for a hearty breakfast.

The tour ends off with a view of the modern way in which the Basotho people have lived.

The Basotho Cultural Village hosts daily tours which are approximately 45 minutes to an hour. These guided tours give insights into the way the Basotho people lived as far back as the 16th century.

Costs are R70 per adult and R40 for a child between 6 and 16 years of age. For information on bookings, contact Tel: +27 (0)58 721 0300/0301/0302.

By Thokozani Malinga

Pictures: Supplied


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