21 September 2011
South Africa has begun work on a series of museums and monuments, together forming a National Liberation Heritage Route, to honour the women and men who fought against apartheid.
Briefing journalists at Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said the move followed Cabinet’s recent approval of a National Liberation Heritage Route that would help preserve the history of South Africa’s armed struggle.
‘This is across the board’
“This [commemoration] is across the board,” Mashatile said. “We are not just looking at ANC [African National Congress] leaders. We are looking at people that played a role in the struggle of the people of South Africa,” he said, adding that this included people like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu, Helen Suzman, Steve Biko and Langalibalele Dube.
The department has dedicated September, South Africa’s Heritage Month, to remembering the country’s struggle heroes and heroines. Ahead of national Heritage Day on 24 September, work has started on restoring the graves of various liberation heroes and declaring them heritage sites.
OR Tambo’s home, Mandela’s birthplace, Ngquza Hill, Liliesleaf
While the cost of rolling out new museums and monuments would be disclosed in more detail at a later stage, Mashatile said R20-million had been set aside for the construction of a museum at OR Tambo’s home in the Eastern Cape, while R50-million had been set aside for Ngquza Hill, where the Pondoland revolt and massacre of 1960 took place.
In Mvezo, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela, the department is building a museum and a proposal for funding of R70-million had been developed.
Roads and other infrastructure in the areas around museums and monuments would also be upgraded.
Mashatile said the restoration of Liliesleaf, the farm where many of the Rivonia trial members were seized during a 1963 police raid, had been completed, while work on the Steve Biko Centre in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape was also under way.
Sites in neighbouring countries
The department was also looking at setting up museums and sites across the border in countries such as Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Zambia.
Currently, an interpretation centre and museum was being constructed in Matola in Mozambique, where liberation activists were massacred in the 1981 raid by the South African Air Force.
Mashatile said the department was presently holding consultative meetings with members of the public in various provinces that have been convened by the respective MECs.
“The National Liberation Heritage Route is really a national project, but we allow communities down the line to do their own, sort of smaller liberation routes as well. So, in a particular community there will be a number of people that are seen as heroes, and communities are free to do so.
“We will focus mainly on what are seen as national heroes.”
He said in the long run, the idea was to put these sites forward for listing as Unesco World Heritage Sites.