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Kaditshwene / Gaditshwene (Tshwenyane Hills)

The Hurutshe are one of the main subdivisions of the Tswana people of southern Africa. The Hurutshe dual capitals between c.1500 and 1823-4 were Tshwenyane, near the post office Enzelsberg, Marico district, and Kaditshwene. Tswana descendents of Bantu migrants from the north later settled the area and paved the way for the rise ofthe ancient “lost city” of Kurreechane (or Kaditshwene) during the Iron Age. The stonewalled cities of the Bahurutshe Tswana at Kurreechane and Kaditshwene near Zeerust were abandoned in the 1820s. In the end Kaditshwene's peace-loving inhabitants proved no match for the aggression of the Sotho.

Kaditshwene / Gaditshwene (Tshwenyane Hills) is the largest Iron Age stone-built city in South Africa. In 1820 this city was larger than Cape Town at that time. It was the manufacturing, trading and cultural capital of the Bahurutshe from before 1600 to 1823. Kaditshwene is historically considered a capital of the Bahurutshe nation and the largest Batswana settlement in Southern Africa with a population of 16,000 to 20,000, around the early 1800's. The large population of Kaditshwene is evidenced by extensive settlement remains that include house foundations, stone walls, ash middens as well as evidence for metal working industry.

John Campbell, for example, a member of the London Missionary Society, had previously visited the Hurutshe capital of Kaditshwene in 1820, and left a detailed record of his visit. "Kurreechane" was Campbell's rendering of the name Kaditshwene, the principal town of the "Marootzee" tribe. Kaditshwene, was estimated by the missionary traveller, Campbell, in 1820 to have a population of 16,000. Here he found a people arrived at a degree of civilization, and possessing a knowledge of arts superior to any of the tribes he had seen. They smelt iron and copper from the ore. The metals are procured from mountains in the neighbourhood.

The writer of one account remarks — "When Colonel Collins was in Caffre land, and among the Tambookees, in 1809, the articles of iron and copper which he found among the savages he supposed to have been furnished by the Portuguese at De La Goa bay. But from the description Mr. Campbell has given of the Kurreechane, the Colonel appears to have been mistaken in this opinion. The manufactures of Kurreechane are found to have diffused themselves from the borders of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope to the shores of Mozambique, and from De La Goa Bay to the wandering tribes on the opposite coast. The needles, bodkins, and other articles of a similar nature manufactured at Kurreechane, and found in abundance in the neighbourhood of Angra Pequena Bay, strengthen the supposition that the Portuguese have for many years carried on an inland correspondence between their settlements and the eastern and western shores of Africa."

Mr. Campbell saw many founderies in Kurreechane, but he regrets that they were guarded with so much jealousy that he was not allowed to enter them. Kurreechane, it is added, "appears to be the Staffordshire as well as the Birmingham of that part of South Africa." They manufacture pottery, and, in the shape and painting of their articles, show some degree of taste. They appear to excel in the making of baskets; and Mr. Campbell found the walls of their houses ornamented with paintings of elephants, camel-leopards, shields, &c.

Kaditshwene presents physical remnants of an ancient civilization renowned for the smelting and mining of iron and copper. Oral testimonies tell of the thriving Iron Age economy was based on the indigenous technique and technology of smelting of Iron and mining of Copper. In this regard, the Bahurutshe were famed for their exceptional skill as miners and smelters of iron and copper. There are visible traces of iron melting furnaces and manufactured implements.

Other strong elements of the sophisticated indigenous building techniques are evident in the built environment such as the ruins of stone walls and circular dwellings of Kaditshwene. Drawing from empirical observations on the built environment in the neighbouring villages ofLekubu and Mokgola, there are prominent recurring features of building techniques and styles similar to the circular ancient stone walls of the architectural dwellings of Kaditshwene. This denotes the transmission of indigenous knowledge system, through the recent application of the traditional skills and techniques, from the past to the present Bahurutshe generation. The indigenous knowledge system associated with the infrastructural developments of Kaditshwene underpins the historical achievements and contribution of the Bahurutse of Zeerust to the socio-economic development of South Africa.

In terms of living heritage or intangible heritage, the cultural significance of Kaditshwene is based on interpretations emanating from the oral testimonies of the Bahurutshe community of Zeerust, particularly members of Lekubu and Mokgola villages who are currently residing close to Kaditshwene. Drawing from the rich oral history, Kaditshwene is inscribed with symbolism and meaning, and it prevails as a physical manifestation of the intangible values associated with the culture and tradition of the Bahurutse, Batswana nation of Southern Africa. The oral history constitutes a crucial aspect of the intangible heritage that could be presented juxtaposed to or complements the documented history of the site.

The vast cultural landscape of Kaditshwene constitutes sacred sites such as 'Metsi a wa ', 'Liphutsieng' and 'Tshwenyane' (amongst others), which continue to serve as spiritual places for the expression of aspects of cultural practices (intangible heritage) such as baptism, rituals for rain making, worshiping and appeasement of ancestors. As such these sacred sites still provide the context for the perpetual transmission and expression of cultural practices amongst the current generation of Bahurutshe of Southern Africa. According to the 2003 UNESCO on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage ' to ensure the safeguarding, development and promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage ... adopt appropriate legal, administrative and financial measures aimed at... the transmission of such heritage through forums and spaces intended for the performance or expression thereof' (2003 UNESCO Convention).

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Page last modified: 25-10-2012 15:44:16 ZULU