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© Mark Lewis
© Mark Lewis
© Mark Lewis
The concept for this new cultural project is not restricted to purely conservational functions, as was the case with the previous museum in Qunu, where the exhibits included gifts made to Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and activist for independence. In the present context, building is understood as a permanent, ongoing process that serves partly as a means of developing the requisite infrastructure, and partly as a measure to further social organization. The three locations, Umtata, Qunu and Mvezo, situated roughly 800 km south-east of Johannesburg on the new N2 highway, have now been linked by various cultural facilities. This has meant the creation of new jobs, particularly for women, in the form of short-term work in building construction and long-term employment in the field of tourism. The application of local craft traditions – in making wattle fences and screens, and the use of masonry techniques, for example – has allowed otherwise unskilled labour to be employed. The building in Umtata, in which the actual museum is housed, was once the seat of the colonial government.