Bhunga can be loosely translated as council or caucus. It collocates with words like Liqoqo, Lekgotla, Imbizo, Gathering, Discussion, etc.
Since 1930, the Bhunga Building has functioned as:
- The seat of the United Transkei Territories General Council
- The seat of the Transkei Legislative Assembly
- The seat of the Republic of Transkei Parliament
It has also housed the Transkei Postmaster General and Transkei Treasury.
Most recently during the local government transition it housed the Kei District Municipality, which was the precursor to the King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality.
The Bhunga began functioning as a museum from 11 February 2000 following a very quick but thorough renovation process.
40% of the building is currently being used for exhibitions, visitor services, public programmes, collection storage and administration of the museum. The remaining 60% is due for a comprehensive upgrade soon.
The current exhibitions at the museum include:
Long Walk to Freedom
The Story of Nelson Mandela in his own words
Gift to the Nation Exhibition
This showcases a selection of the gifts, recognitions and awards received by and given to Mr Nelson Mandela by different people, nations, groups, organisations and institutions the world over.
A visit to the Bhunga is special because you are able to:
- Experience Madiba’s true story in his own words in the midst & soil of his childhood and of his kith and kin.
- Be inspired by the number and diversity of people who were touched by the cause which Mr Nelson R Mandela represents.
- The sheer diversity and stature of recognitions he received.
- The children’s fascination with the different aspects of the exhibit.
- Interacting with diverse local, national and international people.
Many dignitaries have graced the museum including:
- Mr Nelson Mandela himself (of course!)
- The deputy president Mr JG Zuma
- Ministers - past and present
- Traditional leaders
- Prof Ali Mazrui
- Prof Ngugi wa Thingo
- Prof Kole Omotoso
- His Excellency the Ambassador of the US, Mr Cameron Hume
- Ambassador Tonishori Shigeie of Japan
- High Commissioner of Tanzania
- A delegation of 28 Students from 17 African countries
- Delegation from National Museums of Kenya
- Business Trust Fun Run across South Africa
- Attendees of the commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Native Land Act that dispossessed Africans of Land ( observed at the museum)
- Various road shows
- American Fullbright Commission
- International travel writers, international news agencies and international television broadcasting institutions
Of course we cannot forget that children are very dear to Madiba and when they visit they are often fascinated and excited by Madiba’s story, the gifts from around the world and especially images of him.
Although the tours and exhibitions are the most visible part of one's museum experience, communities who reside here experience it at another level - that of ongoing programming, as well as economic, cultural, educational and exposure opportunities.