A former mine worker and gardener from a small, unknown farming town in Free State has set his sights on making a museum in his home town of Mamafubedu Petrus Steyn -- all from scratch. His dream could soon become reality if all goes according to plan.
Twin Mosia (33) is working with Transnet to turn an old train station, which has been badly vandalised, into a national heritage site. Once Transnet grants Mosia the lease, the station will be turned into a museum housing an art gallery, book shop, cultural village and an arts-and-crafts shop, among other things.
Mosia became a local hero in his town -– which is home to some 13,000 residents –- after he started participating in a reenactment of the Anglo-Boer War (1899 to 1902) and Basotho War (1858 to 1868). It was the first time a black man worked on such a project. Mosia lives in a shack and has faced dire conditions, which has become his inspiration.
"There's a lot of HIV here, almost no employment at all, but there is a rich history, so I want to try to create opportunities through history and heritage to open up this environment," Mosia told HuffPost SA.
"I want to open a museum called Elandskop [a hill in the area] Museum, which will explain the history of the town and its role in the Anglo-Boer War and the Basotho War, among other things."
Mosia first found a community of like-minded history buffs on Facebook, and he became the administrator of the group.
"History has always been a passion for me," he said.
"Mining also forms the biggest part of South African history, and as a mine worker, my passion really was in history. I would take days off to see nearby heritage sites, and I just knew I had to follow my passion as soon as I could."
"I think I was born interested in pioneers, people who make history themselves. I see myself as a pioneer, even though I am from such a small town."
He has been raising money by himself to pay for the heritage site and has received immense support so far.
"I have gone through a lot of institutions who are interested in our project. For example, [the] Sol Plaaitje University, where I gave a lecture. Imagine, the first time I stepped inside a university was to give a lecture," he said, laughing.
"I have a whole file of letters of support, but now all we are waiting for is the lease from Transnet. I am really, really on my own. At the moment I stay in a shack. The mine [he was working at] gave me a house, but I left it. I am really in quite a difficult position, but because of my passion, and trying to protect this beautiful station, I know it will be worth it."