21 February 2012
In a gesture towards nation-building and reconciliation, the South African government is to declare the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria a national heritage site, while unveiling a series of monuments to celebrate the heroes and heroines of the country’s struggle for liberation.
The move follows the opening of an access road between two previously divided South African institutions – Freedom Park and the Voortrekker Monument – on the country’s National Reconciliation Day, 16 December, last year.
Addressing a media briefing in Cape Town on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the Voortrekker Monument – inaugurated in 1949 to commemorate the pioneer history of southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner – would be declared a national heritage site in March.
National Liberation Heritage Route
At the same time, she announced details of a massive nationwide heritage route project that the state wants to set up over the next few years at an estimated cost of over R1-billion.
The project will include the building of museums and historic sites in both rural and urban towns, will highlight the government’s drive to unite all South Africans, and will help bring to the fore the role of arts and culture in the country’s economic development.
Dlamini-Zuma said the homes of struggle veterans such Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, OR Tambo, Bram Fischer and African National Congress first president John Langalibalele Dube would be revamped as part of the project.
Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Brandford
Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Brandford in the Free State, where she was placed under house arrest for many years, will be restored to allow it to be protected as an important historic site.
The graves of PAC founder Robert Sobukhwe, former ANC leaders Oliver Thambo, AB Xuma, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Pixley Ka Seme as well as activists Rahima Moosa and Steve Biko will also be upgraded and declared heritage sites.
The Steve Biko Centre in the Eastern Cape is near completion, while the second phase of the Ncome Museum at Freedom Park will also be completed soon.
Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, addressing the same briefing, said the projects would not only help highlight the country’s history but would also help boost local economies and make arts and culture a serious economic player in the country.
“We need to understand that our economy is driven by cultural heritage,” Mashatile said. “So by embarking on these projects we expect to revitalise the local economy, because there are massive benefits for people living in those areas where we plan to implement these projects. It’s a win-win approach.”
Source: BuaNews, with additional reporting by SAinfo reporter