The Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, situated in the heart of Soweto, is an outdoor museum steeped in African art, culture, and folklore. Created by artist, author, and traditional healer, Credo Mutwa, the village comprises a remarkable collection of human and animal sculptures alongside various dwellings and tribal homesteads influenced by a variety of African building styles.
Developed between 1974 and 1986, Mutwa’s collection juxtaposes African folklore and art with an increasingly Westernised society, stressing the role that traditional African culture plays within the urban environment. Pieces include a traditional healing clinic, four-headed mythical creatures, depictions of traditional burial practices, and an exotic array of Zulu chiefs, tokoloshes (African imps), gods of creation, and aliens. When Mutwa abandoned the project in 1986, the sculpture garden fell into a state of disrepair. A restoration project was undertaken in 2006, under the guidance of a student of Mutwa, Musa Ntanzi. Although renovated, the village remains in a dilapidated state, but is still worth a visit.
The sculpture garden lies below the historic Oppenheimer Tower, which affords a panoramic view of Soweto. The sculpture garden is surrounded by the landscaped Oppenheimer Gardens, which is open to the public and filled with indigenous plants, many of which are used in traditional medicine.
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. As one of Africa’s foremost sangomas (traditional healers), Mutwa leads a colourful life and firmly believes that aliens walk among us. Mutwa is highly regarded as an artist, cultural commentator, and conservationist.