Both the tangible and intangible aspects of the heritage of Kaditshwene’s cultural landscape, provide strong evidence of a thriving iron age economy and a dynamic pre-colonial social network, that underpins the historical achievements and contributions by the Bahurutshe people in South Africa.
ln 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 some members of Lekubu and Mokgola village who are currently residing close to Kaditshwene. Drawings 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 Bahurutshe of Southern Africa.
Historical Achievements and Contributions of the Bahurutshe: Kaditshwene is historically considered a capital of the Bahurutshe and the largest Tswana settlement in Southern Africa with a population of 16 000 to 20 000, around the early 1800’s.
This large population of Kaditshwene was almost the size of Cape Town’s population around the same period (Campbell 1822).
Kaditshwene presents physical remnants of an ancient civilization renowned for the smelting and mining of iron and copper. Oral testimonies tell us that the thriving lron Age economy was based on the indigenous technique and technology of smelting of iron and mining of copper. ln this regard, the Bahurutshe were famed for their exceptional skills as miners and smelters of iron and copper. There are visible traces of iron smelting furnaces and slag implements.
Other strong implements of the sophisticated indigenous building techniques are evident in the built environment such as the circular dry stone wall dwellings of Kaditshwene. Drawings from empirical observations on the built environment in the neighbouring villages of Lekubu and Mokgola, 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 perpetual transmission of indigenous knowledge systems, 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 to the Bahurutshe to the socio-economic development of South Africa.
Spiritual Value (Social Value)
The vast cultural landscape of Kaditshwene constitutes of sacred sites which are deeply spiritual. One such a place situated near “fa Kgosing”, a powerful fountain that is believed to have a huge dragonlike snake living in it. These places are used for expression of aspects of cultural practices (intangible heritage) such as baptism, rainmaking rituals, worshiping and appeasement of ancestors. As such these sacred sites can 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 United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention on the Safeguarding of lntangible Cultural Heritage, State Parties are encouraged 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)
The forced removals that occurred at Kaditshwene in the 1800’s, constitutes a historical fact that has been handed down, over generations, to the present day Bahurutshe people of Zeerust. The sad history of forced removals of the Bahurutshe from their ancestoral land, Kaditshwene, coincides with the significant common history of displacements and forced removals of thousands of South Africans, that occurred repeatedly in several parts of South Africa. These removals were spurred by the Difaquane wars in the 1800’s.
Kaditshwene also epitomizes the ongoing determination by the indigenous people to re-define their history and heritage that once was subject to colonial influences and historical inaccuracies.
Kaditshwene represents a museum without walls or open-air archive scattered with traces of heritage resources still intact. ln its pristine state the site presents the opportunity for the development of an educational resource to serve the immediate and broader surrounding communities. ln particular the site is conductive for the establishment of an interpretation centre that could serve as an outdoor learning experience. There are also far reaching prospects for research and development leading to knowledge production. The use of the site for educational purposes, coincide with the emerging demands of addressing the conservation needs and sustainable management of heritage resources.
The physical fabric of the ruins of Kaditshwene presents unique architectural features of circular stone walls and dwelling places. The ruins depict a decorative pattern and design popularly found in the area. The ornate cluster of circular built environment are scattered throughout the cultural landscape of Kaditshwene.