Cultural Experiences: The proud and rich culture of the Klein Karoo

Cultural Experiences



The Museum owes its origin to the private collection of Colonel Charles Paul Nel, who was a successful businessman and a collector of antiquities. In 1972 the collection was brought to its present home – the former Oudtshoorn Boys’ High School. As a result of this, the historic sandstone building, with its beautiful clock tower, was saved from demolition and in 1981 was declared a National Monument.

The museum is essentially cultural-historical in nature and endeavours to collect, preserve, research and exhibit the unique heritage of Oudtshoorn and the Klein Karoo. A unique feature of the museum is that it has a full synogoue inside that is still in use today. A large jewish community, primarily from Lithuania, immigrated to Oudtshoorn (1881 – 1890) and played a large role in the worldwide marketing of ostrich feathers.

The museum is open Monday – Saturday at 9:00 – 17:00.

Visit the C.P. Nel Museum website.


In earlier years, many South African farmers had a townhouse (dorpshuis) in the nearest town to make overnight or  longer stays possible. These townhouses were purely functional. But the Le Roux Townhouse – which now forms part of the C.P. Nel Museum-complex – was different. It was built in 1909, in the midst of the second Ostrich Feather Boom (1900 – 1914) and money was no object. It was designed by one of Oudtshoorn’s best-known architects, with the most modern innovations, and built with the best of imported and local materials.

It is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 17:00

Read more about the Le Roux Townhouse.


Oudtshoorn is one of the homes of the Afrikaans language and culture. The town’s most famous resident Cornelius Jacobus Langenhoven (1873 – 1931) is considered to be the father of Afrikaans. By 1914, he became a member of parliament where he fought to have Afrikaans recognised as a national language. He was a prodigious writer and authored important literature.

Arbeidsgenot is Langenhoven’s home and is a national monument. Oudtshoorn is die werkswinkel waar Afrikaans gevorm is en waar “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” uit die hart en pen van C.J. Langenhoven verrys het.

Translated:  Arbeidsgenot Oudtshoorn is the workshop where Afrikaans was formed and where “The Voice of South Africa” poured from the heart and pen of C.J. Langenhoven (this was the previous South African national anthem).

Museum is open Monday – Friday 9:30 – 13:00 and  14:00 – 17:00. Visits can be arranged on Saturday on request.

Visit the C.J Langenhoven’s website.

Additional information on Oudtshoorn Information website.
Do not miss out on the cultural experiences, we are only within a 30km radius from these Museums. Contact Mooiplaas Country Guesthouse if you require more information.


The Khoi and San people were the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, living in the country thousands of years before the written history began with the arrival of the first Europeans.

The San People (“San” was the name the Bushmen used when referring to themselves)

The San people were the hunter-gatherers. They probably originated on the north coast of Africa and were driven south by stronger tribes. They have been called by many names: “Bushmen”, “San” or “Sonqua”, “Soaqua”, “Sarwa” or “Basarwa”, and “Twa” all basically meaning, “those without domestic livestock”. They were excellent trackers and lived in caves or shelters made of branches close to waterholes for drinking water and so that animals could be easily hunted.

They are famous for their rock art and paintings that depict their way of life and beliefs, which give us a glimpse of how these tough little people, capable of courage and compassion, could survive on the land for such a long time, without destroying all they touched.

There is a small group of San in the Kalahari Desert today. It is increasingly difficult for them to live their traditional lifestyle, and most have turned to either agriculture or stock-breeding to make a living.

The Khoi People (” Khoi” was the original name used by the Hottentots in reference to themselves)

The Khoikhoi (“men of men”) or Khoi, sometimes spelled KhoeKhoe.

They had practiced extensive pastoral agriculture (a nomadic lifestyle based on herding of cattle) in Southern Africa for about 30,000 years before the European settlers arrived in 1652. Like the San, they had a yellowish complexion but because of their protein diet they were bigger in size.

They slept on reed mats in dome-shaped huts made from stripped branches which could be taken apart. Their huts were erected in a circle surrounded by a fence of thorny branches so that they could protect themselves and their animals.

The Khoisan

These two peoples eventually married into each other’s tribes and became one people – the Khoisan.

With the arrival of the black and later the white people, much strife ensued. The San regarded the farmers’ cattle as game that they could hunt, and the Khoi saw the farmers as intruders on their grazing pastures. This strife drove the San people north into Namibia and Botswana. The colounisation of the Cape also forced them to change their lifestyle and the population was severely reduced by wars, epidemics (e.g. smallpox) and they eventually became detribalised. Because of all these changes, the Khoi people ceased to exist as a nation.

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