If you’re interested in experiencing African culture, both ancient and modern, there’s no better place than the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in the heart of Soweto, South Africa. Created by the author, artist and traditional healer Credo Mutwa, this village is an outdoor museum where you can get up close to African art, culture and folklore. Here you’ll find a collection of sculptures, paintings and even traditional huts that juxtaposes ancient African mythology and traditions with modern and Western ideas. Located within Oppenheimer Gardens, admission to this unique art gallery is free.
Credo Mutwa began working on this project in 1974 as a way to express his love for South African history and its progression into the modern era. He combined both modern and traditional materials in many of the pieces, including stone, reeds, recycled metals and cement. A walk through the village will put you face-to-face with many mythical figures from African cosmology and legend as well as African nationalistic icons.
Within you’ll find giant statues of Nomkhubulwane, a female goddess worshiped by the Nguni people and Mvelinqange, a precolonial god. Monsters and prehistoric African beasts also await your passing, such as a three-horned beast called a triotribes and an ancient dragon called titamogofaudon. Other pieces include African imps known as tokoloshes, four-headed mythical creatures, and even aliens.
Mutwa also fashioned three different villages within the park, a Zulu village, a Basotho village and an Arab village, complete with oriental architecture and a mosque. These three villages serve as representations of the cultural tradition of South Africa and its people. You’ll even find a traditional healing clinic as well as representations of Africa’s ancient people and their practices, such as depictions of traditional burials, various Zulu chiefs and a pair of shepherds guarding their livestock while playing morabaraba, a thousand-year-old African board game.
As an accomplished artist and one of Africa’s foremost sangomas, or traditional healers, Mutwa is one of South Africa’s most intriguing cultural figures. His cultural village attracts thousands of tourists each year, both from within and outside of South Africa, and serves as an expression of African art, architecture, history and folklore, as well as the diversity of the African spirit.