Mafikeng - Communities in the North West have been urged to take care of their museums because they are an important means to attract tourists to the province.
"Tourists visit museums because they want to learn about the history of that particular community and where the museum is located, therefore we must ensure that all our museums are well taken care of," said newly appointed North West MEC for Sports Arts and Culture, Grace Pampiri.
She was speaking during the International Museum Day event at the Mafikeng Museum on Monday.
The MEC told the community members that museums are storehouses of heritage.
"It is through our museums that our people, including tourists, learn how we came to where we are today. Most importantly, museums educate and inform our children with delight and enjoyment," she said.
The department is in the process of completing a heritage and museum management plan, which is closely linked to the heritage route of the province.
This includes the N4 Bakwena Platinum route in Bojanala District, the N12 Treasure Route in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality and the Western Frontier Route in the Dr Ruth Segomotse Mompati District Municipality.
"As part of this comprehensive heritage and museum management plan, we shall continue to engage other partners in our quest to develop our heritage sites with a keen eye on shared growth and with development of local communities," she said.
Director of Tourism and Museums in the North West Parks and Tourism Board, Ishmael Kgokong said museums were an important part of society.
"As we move towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it is important that all stakeholders ensure that our museums position themselves more as tourist attractions in the province.
"This will present an opportunity to start valuing our culture and ensure that our communities benefit from activities that are linked to the operations of museums and heritage sited," he explained.
Refilwe Ntebele, 15, from the Tlhabologo village said: "I have visited three museums in the province and the experience was great because I learnt so much on how our great grandfathers and grandmothers lived long time ago," the Grade 10 learner from Barolong High School told BuaNews.
Grade 11 learner from Lapologang High School, Boniza Nazo, 19, said she had learnt about the origin of her community at the museum.
"I have visited the Mafikeng Museum on several occasions to lean more about my community, how it started and all other staff about my people. It is through this museum that I know how the people in the past used to live and everything about my community."
International Museum Day was held under the theme: "Museum and tourism". It is celebrated annually on the 18 May.
The museum was attended by local traditional leaders, community members, local traditional musicians and various school learners.