Blog Post

Heritage Valley – a community asset

Two of the four traditionally thatched Xhosa huts in Heritage Valley at the Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni.

Two of the four traditionally thatched Xhosa huts in Heritage Valley at the Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni.

Heritage Valley consists of four large Xhosa huts set in a natural sloped amphitheatre surrounded by trees to the immediate south of Wendy Woods House, the operational headquarters of the Foundation’s work in the Mbashe district.

The idea behind the development is to provide a natural space for large community events for the surrounding residents of Hobeni and the wider area.

The DWF successfully applied to the National Lottery Commission for funding under its Arts, Culture and Heritage programme banner. Four huts are complete. A future final phase is the construction of an outdoor stage, ablution facilities and storage rooms for PA systems and sound equipment.

The purpose of the Huts

Living Museum: One hut will become a living museum for and to the people of Bomvanaland. The Foundation will start to develop this small museum with artefacts as they become available.  Exhibitions depicting the life of Bomvanaland, both past and present, will be displayed in this hut as well as the rich history of the region. This could play a significant role in building heritage and culture skills and instilling pride and knowledge in the area’s rich cultural and historical legacy.

Children’s Library and Homework Club: The next hut will house a homework club for local school children and a children’s library. It has been furnished with colourful child-friendly furniture filled with toys, games and learning materials, thanks to generous donations co-ordinated by some members of the Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad volunteer cohort who spent two weeks at Hobeni in October 2015.

The Foundation put out a call to partners for a book drive and we were able to secure sizeable donations of children’s books from Rotary Bedfordview in Johannesburg (as part of their Bury Me in Books outreach which distributes books donated by Rotary in the US), RTT Logistics, Sanofi and Montana Health and ITEC in East London.

The Foundation would like to thank all our partners in this book drive for their generous response and donations of books in both isiXhosa and English. We also thank the library staff of ITEC in East London for pointing us in the right direction regarding setting up a children’s library. These donations will fill a sizeable gap in our children’s library and your partnership has made a dream possible.

Heritage Valley 1The hut is decorated with colourful posters and learning materials together with floor mats for reading corners and story time areas – all aimed at providing a space for fun, learning, building literacy skills and instilling a lifelong love of reading and learning.

The Foundation will continue to source book donations for this exciting initiative. We will keep our stakeholders updated with the progress made.

DWF Break-Away Training Room: One hut will be used as a DWF break-away training room and it can be used by visitors and organisations that are using the facilities at the Donald Woods Centre.

Traditional Authorities Meeting Room: The last hut consists of a tiered carpeted meeting area with a beautiful, large mahogany table and chairs – designed as a comfortable meeting place for the use of traditional authorities in the area.

Lastly, the sloped grassy lawns between the huts have been landscaped with trees and shrubs, forming a natural amphitheatre where people/spectators can sit and observe and take part in community events such as traditional ceremonies, festivals, drama, music or general educational and cultural performances.

The area overlooks the burial site of Donald and Wendy Woods and their son Lindsay.

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