Located in the heart of Soweto, the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village is a museum-cum-outdoor exhibition of astounding sculptures and buildings created by African artist and traditional healer Credo Mutwa. The private collection of sculptures that he constructed from 1974 to 1986 juxtaposes African folklore and art with an increasingly Westernised society. This unique take on art and society as a huge drawpoint for tourists hunting for a more authentic experience and sets the village as one of the traditional attractions in Gauteng.
The Credo Mutwa cultural village is more than a museum, it is an outdoor experience steeped in tradition and African folklore. It is comprised of sculpture and buildings created by the African artist Credo Mutwa. Mutwa was also a traditional healer said to have the powers to predict the future, depicted in his statues believed to depict the AIDs epidemic. The village is located in the heart of and underwent a restoration project in 2006. A visit to the village is a journey through the life of this intriguing sangoma and his work in conservation, an exhibition of the role traditional African culture plays within the urban environment.
Mutwa’s garden is the product of his vision to enlighten Africans about the folklore of the land and to protect African heritage, teaching Africans how to believe in their own greatness. He abandoned the project in 1986, leaving everything to fall into a tragic state of disrepair.
In 2006, a restoration project was undertaken under the guidance of Musa Ntanzi, a student of Mutwa. Although renovated, the village remains in a dilapidated state – but still worth a visit.
The garden is Mutwa’s commentary on the state of the urban environment, where traditional African culture has an interesting role to play. The dwellings include a traditional healing clinic structure, while four-headed mythical creatures and traditional burial practices are also depicted. The exotic array of sculptures includes Zulu chiefs and tokoloshes (African imps), gods of creation and aliens. The collection showcases human and animal figures alongside various dwellings and tribal homesteads drawn from a variety of building styles.
Some of Mutwa’s followers believe that one of his statues, from 1979, predicted the coming of HIV to Africa, while one of his paintings from the same year foretold of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001.
The garden of sculptures lies below the historic Oppenheimer Tower and is surrounded by landscaped gardens filled with indigenous plants, many of which are used in traditional medicine. It's definitely one of the unique places to visit in Johannesburg.
While Mutwa’s cultural village documents African art, culture, folklore and architecture, it is also a journey into the mind of one of South Africa’s most intriguing cultural figures. Mutwa is one of Africa’s foremost sangomas (traditional healer). He leads a colourful life and firmly believes that aliens walk among us.
Mutwa is highly regarded as an artist, cultural commentator and, recently, for his work in conservation.
- Admission is free and visiting hours are daily from from 6am to 6pm.