To celebrate Heritage Month, Creative Feel spoke to Nelson Zwane, Acting Site-Curator for the DITSONG: Tswaing Meteorite Crater Museum, to find out a bit more about the Museum, Zwane and his cultural heritage.
Nelson Zwane was born in Carolina, Mpumalanga, and has been working for the DITSONG: Museums of South Africa for the past 23 years, working his way up from junior positions to his current position as Acting Site-Curator for DITSONG: Tswaing Meteorite Crater Museum.
Of his recent promotion, Zwane says: ‘I must say that it was not an easy decision to make as to whether to accept or decline the offer. I really didn’t see it coming and when approached with the offer, I didn’t have an immediate answer, considering all other factors, including external factors associated with the site. However, after some considerations and thorough introspection, I got a sense of belief in my capabilities, having served the museum mainly in admin and finance departments over the years…
‘I would like to acknowledge and recognise the unwavering support of management and my colleagues; in particular, the Tswaing team, who welcomed me with open and warm hands. Their overwhelming support is what keeps me going. To the team, I reiterate my famous statement: “Together as a team we can do more!”’
The Tswaing Meteorite Crater, which dates back over 200 000 years, has had an interesting impact on the indigenous knowledge of the immediate community and surrounding areas. Tswaing is a Setswana name meaning the ‘Place of Salt’ in English; it was formerly known as the Pretoria Saltpan Crater or Soutpankrater. The area is a 2 000-hectare heritage site, some 40 kilometres north-west of central Pretoria. Water in the crater comes from surface springs, groundwater and rainwater and is rich in dissolved carbonates and sodium chlorides. The area is a wetland and is a diverse ecosystem consisting of over 250 species of birds and assorted types of flora.
The Tswaing Meteorite Crater is surrounded by settlements inhabited by more than a million people, such as Winterveld, Soshanguve, Mabopane and Nuwe Eersterus.
There are also some interesting cryptozoology and cultural beliefs about the Tswaing Meteorite Crater, says Zwane. For example, ‘there is a popular belief among traditional healers, certain religious groups and members of the community that the salty water from the Crater has some magic or healing powers. Prophets and traditional healers also use the site to perform some rituals, such as cleansing rituals.
‘Community members believe there is a giant snake under the surface of the Crater. The snake is alleged to be so powerful that it takes people to train them underground. It is also believed that since the training is secret, the snake therefore attacks and kills people who randomly go to the crater in the afternoon or at night.