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LESEDI CULTURAL VILLAGE (article first published : 2002-01-10)

In KZN, the names Barry Leitch and Kingsley Holgate are to be reckoned with and, between them, they possess a considerably knowledge of traditional Zulu culture. Their partnership has formed an integral part of many movies shot in KZN such as Shaka Zulu where they assisted with the sourcing of locations as well as the casting of hundreds of extras.

With Mike Moon, they started the tourism company Group Africa out of which grew the popular cultural village of Shakaland near Melmoth in KZN, a hotel built around the Zulu kraal which was created for the original set of Shaka Zulu.

A similar venue is Lesedi Cultural Village which is situated in the North West Province 40 minutes drive from Johannesburg on the way to Hartbeespoort Dam. Lesedi is now an independent organisation and caters strongly for the conference market while offering daily cultural experiences for tourists and visitors.

There is a traditional dance display of about 30 minutes followed by a buffet in the impressive thatched dining area with its three sections: Southern Africa, East Africa and North Africa. The décor has been designed by Hans Nel, the set designer for Shaka Zulu, who still maintains close ties with Lesedi even to the point where he can be seen armed with a paintbrush touching up the artwork on his regular visits.

The food offered includes traditional fare and the uninitiated can challenge their taste buds with impala, ostrich, and crocodile.

Today’s cultural host was the imposing figure of Sydney Reginald Kenke known as “Baba Dlamini”. His is a familiar face - not surprisingly, as he has appeared in Shaka Zulu and television commercials as well as in shows such as Ipi Tombi, Lulu Wena and King Kong. His presentation of the dance display was admirable, keeping the pace going and injecting a certain amount of humour while still retaining a sense of dignity.

How do you portray the Rainbow Nation with its 11 different language groups in 30 minutes? The presentation is cleverly constructed with snatches of various dance styles as the host explains traditions and customs. Audiences even get to do a few uncomplicated dance steps around the fire. The performance team numbers around 40 and generally acquit themselves well and with much energy although the line dancing of the males could do with a bit of tightening up.

Some of the performers have their own craft section where they sell beadwork and there is a well-stocked craft shop for souvenirs.

If you’re up in the North West Province take a couple of hours to stop off at Lesedi. You can’t miss its attractive Ndebele markings. More details from 012 205-1394/5 or fax 012 205-1433. E-mail: marketing@lesedi.com or visit www.lesedi.com




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