15 December 2011
The opening of an access road between two previously divided South African institutions – Freedom Park and the Voortrekker Monument – will be among the highlights of this year’s National Reconciliation Day celebrations on Friday.
President Jacob Zuma, along with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, National Council of Provinces chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, will officially open the road joining the two institutions on the outskirts of Pretoria, marking an important day in the history of South Africa.
Joining two ‘sides’ of SA history, culture
Freedom Park was established by the Department of Arts and Culture in 2009 to provide a pioneering, empowering heritage destination reflecting South Africa’s pre-colonial, colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid experiences.
It is aimed at contributing to mutual understanding and appreciation of various communities and nations.
The Voortrekker Monument, on the other hand, was inaugurated in 1949 to commemorate the pioneer history of southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner. The monument also manages Kerkenberg and the Blood River Heritage.
In a statement this week, the Presidency said the opening of the access road would play a big role in further reconciling South African society, as the two memorial sites represent different faces of South Africa’s history and culture.
Nation building, social cohesion
“The road will also enable easy access of visitors to both institutions, which will play a huge role in nation building and social cohesion, as visitors from both sides come from different political affiliations and cultures,” the Presidency said.
The two institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding as a symbol of goodwill to work together to foster reconciliation, and the opening of the road is part of the implementation of this agreement.
The commemoration of Reconciliation Day creates a platform to implement the principles embedded in the Constitution of South Africa.
The Preamble to the Constitution states: “We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of the past, Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom of our land, Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country, and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in diversity”.