Polokwane, one of the cities to host next year's FIFA World Cup South Africa™, is often referred to as the place of myths and legends. A strange combination, but maybe that ambiguous description should be enough to make one want to probe more deeply and explore this city that has been so unfortunately under-profiled.
One local once summed it nicely describing Polokwane as an "unknown city with a rich culture and strong appeal." It is a beautifully artistic and small city that maintains and almost umbilical connection to its unique culture. It is also here that one of modern South Africa's heroes, Peter Mokaba, was born and in honour of the man who struggled so ferociously against Apartheid, the city decided to name the Stadium - currently under construction but nearing completion - after him.
Away from the football field a lot is being done to ensure that the city positions itself as one of the destinations of choice when thousands of football fans descend on the tip of Africa next year. Polokwane 2010 director, Ndavhe Ramakuela, has been on a mission to describe "another side" of Polokwane to many people - some of whom have never heard of the city before.
According to Ramakuela, plans are afoot to embark on monthly campaigns that will increase awareness about Polokwane. "We have been working very hard to promote the city. Our stadium (Peter Mokaba Stadium) is on schedule and it's going to be one of the iconic places in our city for years and years to come," he said. "We have invested a lot of money in promoting the city to the rest of the country and the continent. We have been busy upgrading our roads and infrastructure to meet international standards and we are happy with the work that has been done so far."
Situated at the heart of the Limpopo Province, Polokwane is surrounded by the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana which will make it easy for residents of these countries to participate in the finals festivities next year.
A drive between Johannesburg and Polokwane will take you nearly three hours. However, very little is known about the city outside of South Africa and, sadly, even in South Africa not many have ventured to this land and explored its wild, green vegetation, experienced its varied wildlife and the peace of mind generated by the peculiar calm of the city.
So, when you touch down to South Africa and your team is based in Polokwane, here are some option of things to do and see. The first thing that might be tempting would be a Safari drive that enables one to experience wildlife in Africa and perhaps an opportunity to glimpse the much-talked about 'big five' (lion, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros).
The Polokwane Museum, housed in the historic Irish House, has interesting exhibitions including a history of the city and its surrounding areas. Here you will find artifacts from the Stone and Iron ages. There are also 4x4 adventure excursions and hiking trails in the Polokwane Game Reserve.
Surely it's no Johannesburg or Cape Town. It doesn't have a Table Mountain or the fine beaches that make Durban such a spectacular destination, but Polokwane is certain to give visitors a taste of another side of South Africa.