The Griffiths Mxenge Tragedy:

Today marks 36 years since Human Rights attorney, African National Congress (ANC) and African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) member and political activist, Griffiths Mxenge was brutally murdered.

Griffiths Mxenge was born on 27 February 1935 in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape. He was the eldest son of Johnson Pinti and Hannah Nowise Mxenge, who were farmers from Rayi in the Eastern Cape.

While attending high school Mxenge became increasingly interested in politics and decided to join the ANCYL.  Although Mxenge was involved in various protests throughout these years, he completed his LLB at the University of Natal in 1970 and married his childhood sweetheart, Victoria Nonyamezelo Ntebe. After obtaining his degree, Mxenge became a prominent human rights lawyer and a political activist in the Eastern Cape during the late 1970s and the early 1980s. He fought against the Apartheid regime and was recognised as one of the famous attorneys who defended numerous Africans who were arrested, charged and imprisoned, based on unjust laws.

Due to Mxenge’s campaign against the Apartheid regime and his impact in court, the threatened racist regime ‘ordered’ his assassination to remove him as a threat forever.

He was brutally murdered on the evening of 19 November 1981. He was abducted, stabbed and hammered to death. His mutilated body was found next to Durban’s Umlazi stadium. Victoria Mxenge had to identify her husband’s body and concluded from the onset that her husband’s death was politically motivated.

Although in exile at the time, ANC president Oliver Tambo sent condolences to the Mxenge family and also supported Victoria’s Mxenge’s view that her husband’s death was politically motivated. He stated that:

“On the night of 19 November in the South African city of Durban, agents of the Pretoria regime brutally assassinated Griffiths Mxenge. Using knives, the murderers were not content just to take away the life of this outstanding patriot. In unbridled savagery, they extensively mutilated his face and cut off his ears… The massacre of our people in Matola in January, the murder of Joe Gqabi in Salisbury in July and now the assassination of Griffiths Mxenge are a sign of the desperation of the enemy who increasingly finds himself unable to stop the forward march of the people, the ANC and the popular army, Umkhonto we Sizwe.”

Despite the anger surrounding Mxenge’s death, 15 000 mourners, which included United Democratic Front patron Albertina Sisulu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, attended the funeral in King William’s Town to honour his memory.

The funeral was a peaceful affair where Mxenge’s body was laid to rest.  It was only when Mxenge’s coffin, which was covered in ANC colours, was lowered into the ground that things took a turn for the worse. A Transkei security policeman by the name of Detective-Constable Albert Gungqwana Tafile was found secretly tape-recording the funeral which led to the crowd attacking the policeman. Although Archbishop Desmond Tutu tried to protect the policeman, the crowd attacked him and left him dying behind a makeshift VIP platform at the funeral.

The violence at Mxenge’s funeral was a powerful historical event as it exposed the drastic split between the Apartheid regime and the majority of Africans. As history student Jacob Manenzhe argued in his Masters thesis:

“The policeman, never mind being Black, was a servant of the State, and was therefore regarded as a puppet and a spy for his master, while Griffith’s coffin was a symbol of the oppressed Blacks.”

Mxenge’s murder remains one of the most notorious political assassinations in South Africa. Amnesty was granted to Mxenges killers, identified as a death squad operating from Vlakplaas, west of Pretoria, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997 despite severe objections by his family


Obituary for Griffiths Mlungisi Mxenge (1935 – 1981).

Jacob Manenzhe, THE POLITICISATION OF FUNERALS IN SOUTH AFRICA  DURING THE 20th CENTURY (1900 – 1994). Masters Thesis. University of Pretoria. January 2007.

Statement by Oliver Tambo on the murder of Griffiths Mxenge.

Commemorating the life of musical activist Mama Africa:

Yesterday marked nine years since Miriam Makeba passed away.

More fondly known as Mama Africa, Makeba was a legendary singer who became an iconic voice in 1950s Sophiatown and a staunch opponent to Apartheid South Africa, internationally recognised as a cultural ambassador against the racist regime.

Born in Prospect Township, east of Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 March 1932, Zenzile Miriam Makeba was the daughter of a Swazi woman, Christina, and a Xhosa man, Caswell. She was the youngest of five children, including three sisters and one brother.

To generate extra income, Makeba’s mother Christina brewed and sold her own beer, an illegal activity that led to police raids and a six-month jail sentence. Makeba was only a few weeks old when her mother was sent to prison. She later moved and lived with her grandparents, in an environment where church was highly valued. It was at church where Makeba was exposed to and found her love of singing.

Makeba started singing professionally in 1954. In her first show as a professional singer, Makeba joined her cousin and his friends in their group, the Cuban Brothers, a South African all-male close harmony group, with whom she sang covers of popular American songs.

After performing at church, community and fundraising events with them, Makeba soon gained recognition as a talented singer. Due to Makeba’s popularity, the Manhattan Brothers, a famous local singing group, asked her to join their jazz band. Although they were able to tour the neighbouring countries of Southern and Northern Rhodesia in 1954, the group faced constant harassment by police at numerous checkpoints due to their race.

Round about the following year Makeba joined a women’s quartet called Skylarks, a women’s quartet that combined jazz and traditional African melodies.

Makeba started recording her own songs during these years, unfortunately at a time when the government began censoring music that was thought to be against the government. It was also around this time Makeba started performing African jazz in front of a white audience, an opportunity that led to her being offered an overseas performance in 1959. Before she left South Africa, Makeba recorded a song called Goodbye Mother, Goodbye Father, and to my little baby goodbye, until we meet again, a song that effectively marked the beginning of her years in exile.

Makeba became a popular singer in England. While recoding some of her music, she met American singer and songwriter Harry Belafonte, who played a pivotal role in the development of her career. He helped Makeba obtain a United States (U.S.) visa which led her to move to New York. While there, Makeba released two albums, in 1960 and 1963. Both albums made the billboard 200 in the U.S.

Despite having a successful career in the U.S., Makeba used her fame to start sharing her concerns about Apartheid. In 1963 Makeba took a stand at the United Nations (U.N.) to testify against Apartheid and asked the U.N. to try and free South Africa’s wrongfully jailed leaders. The South African government responded by revoking Makeba’s citizenship and passport. Unaware of her invalid citizenship and passport, Makeba tried to re-enter the country for her mother’s funeral, only to find she could not enter her home country South Africa. Makeba lived in exile for the next 30 years.

It was in the 1965 album titled An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba, that Makeba first expressed her views on the Apartheid regime. This album spoke about the oppression of black South Africans and also informed listeners of Apartheid atrocities. One of the songs included in this album was Beware, Verwoerd!, a popular song amongst black South Africans talking about the founder of Apartheid, Hendrik Frensch (H.F.) Verwoerd. Although the song was not popular amongst white South Africans, it did inspire black South Africans to defy unjust Apartheid laws. Following the popularity of the subversive song, the South African government arrested anyone they caught singing it. Two years after Beware Verwoerd!, Makeba released another popular hit, the internationally renowned Pata Pata.

In 1983 Makeba released another successful album titled Mama Africa, as she was publicly recognised as ‘Mama Africa’ during this time. This album contained the song Sophiatown is Gone, which focused on the 1950s forced removals in Sophiatown, a suburb just outside Melville in Johannesburg. Many black South Africans who were forcibly removed from Sophiatown found solace in Makeba’s song, which drew the world’s attention to the inhumane treatment of ordinary South Africans by the Apartheid government.

Although Makeba fought for the rights of black South Africans during her exile, she also became involved in fighting for Civil Rights in America as black pop culture and arts became increasingly popular in the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s. Singers such as Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Miriam Makeba performed in New York and various neighbouring cities to fight for civil rights.

Makeba also married Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael in 1968. Although they shared the same views on civil rights, Makeba’s records and tours were cancelled in the U.S. due to her marriage to the prominent member of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organisation in the U.S.

In 1968 Makeba and Stokely moved to Guinea, Africa, to fight for civil rights from there. Although both continued to fight for civil rights, Makeba and Stokely divorced in Guinea after separating in 1978. After the divorce, Makeba was still an active figure in the struggle movement, both in South Africa and America. In recognition of her efforts, she was awarded the Dag Hammerkjold Peace Prize by the Diplomatic Academy for Peace in 1968.

It was only in 1990 that Makeba was allowed to return to South Africa. Although hesitant at first, she returned to South Africa after 31 years of exile, following Mandela urging her to do so. In 1991 she worked with other South African artists to produce and release the album Eyes on Tomorrow. This album focused on the future of South Africa and gave hope to South Africans for a new tomorrow.

Makeba played a vital role in the struggle for freedom in both the anti-Apartheid movement and the Civil Rights movement. Her career as a singer helped her reach audiences and inform them of the atrocities of the Apartheid regime. Her cultural activism is being honoured in our #LongMarchtoFreedom, where she is celebrated as a struggle icon and local artist turned international celebrity during the darkest periods of South Africa’s racist regime.


Imvo Zabantsundu: A brief history

Today marks 133 years since the first black owned newspaper Imvo Zabantsundu (‘The Native Opinion of South Africa’) published their first report.

Prior to the establishment of Imvo Zabantsundu, the only other African language newspapers printed were missionary journals that encouraged the advancement of literacy and Christianity. Some of these newspapers, such as Ikhwezi (The Morning Star) and Indaba reported in both English and Xhosa, but only provided spiritual enlightenment and evaded any political news.

Another newspaper which was also bilingual then was Isigidimi samaXhosa (The Kaffir Express). The racial slur evident in the title of this newspaper was used to refer to the Xhosa language during this time, which was also present in various Xhosa language manuals and dictionaries of the 19th century period. Although similar to Ikhwezi and Indaba, Isigidimi samaXhosa played a vital role in the establishment of Imvo Zabantsundu. The editor of the former newspaper soon grew tired of the news reported and wanted to report what was really happening in South Africa during that time.

As no politics was discussed in the missionary newspapers, a man by the name of John Tengo Jabavu decided to start his own newspaper. This newspaper would later be known as Imvo Zabantsundu.

Born in 1859 in Healdtown, John Tengo Jabavu was a talented writer and teacher who became increasingly interested in African politics. He wanted to provide a forum where like-minded individuals would share their opinions on the policies made by the government. Although Jabavu was known for writing remarkable articles in the Cape Mercury and the Cape Argus newspaper, he was soon asked by Dr James Stewart to become the editor of Isigidimi samaXhosa. Despite taking on the role of editor at Isigidimi samaXhosa, Jabavu became increasingly interested in politics during the general elections of 1882-1883. Jabavu first tried sharing his opinions in Isigidimi samaXhosa, but was later discouraged to do so by Dr Stewart simply because the missionary journals of that time were dedicated to spreading the Christian gospel. Since the newspaper did not have a clear political position, Jabavu started his own newspaper.

Although Jabavu lacked the funds to start the newspaper, he was fortunate to find two investors, Mr Richard Rose-Innes and Mr James Weir, both from King Williamstown.

By 3 November 1884, the first issue of Imvo Zabantsundu was published. Although this newspaper was known as the first black-owned newspaper during this era, it also became popular because it helped Africans to express themselves without any fear of prejudice and discrimination. It was through this newspaper that Africans were able to share their political views ranging from pass laws, laws governing urban locations and the sale of liquor. Imvo Zabantsundu also became a source of literature for Africans as it addressed the literary aspirations of its readers and also reflected their lives and the country in which they lived.

This is evident when the newspaper published poems in the original dialect and did not translate them into English. By retaining the traditional style in the poems published in Imvo Zabantsundu, the newspaper became more appealing to the African reader as it did not force them to conform to the Western style of reading, which was in English. By providing a safe space to enjoy the Xhosa language the newspaper inspired many writers to write books in their vernacular as there was a limited amount of original books written at the time.

Imvo Zabantsundu was a popular newspaper that extended as far as Natal and Lesotho. This newspaper was unique as it did not aim to promote a religious agenda but instead wanted to encourage Africans to share their political views without feeling restricted. This newspaper also became a conduit for many writers interested in poetry or fiction. It was a powerful newspaper that inspired many Africans to take pride in their culture and informed many of the political and social issues of that time.



Koliswa Moropa (2010) African voices in Imvo Zabantsundu: Literary pieces from the past, South African Journal of African Languages, 30:2, 135-144


The Tshwane Tour: From Tour Guides to Tourists

On the 5th and 6th October 2017 our Long March To Freedom site guides were invited to a Tshwane Familiarization Tour hosted by the Gauteng Tourism Authority. During this two-day tour our site guides learnt about what the city of Tshwane had to offer and had new insights into their own work as site guides.

The first day of the tour was jam-packed with outings to various historical sites. The tour started at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services prison. Here the site guides were able to get a deeper understanding of prison life. They were guided by one of the inmates who shared their prison experiences and their knowledge of the daily routines of the prisoners.

The next destination was a tour of the well-known heritage site Freedom Park. Freedom Park which is situated on Salvokop in Pretoria, includes a memorial with a list of the names of those killed in the South African Wars, World War I, World War II as well as during the apartheid era. It was after this tour that the site guides were taken to the Gautrain Station where they experienced the day-to-day running of the Gautrain. The day ended off with an exciting township tour, where the site guides explored both Solomon Mahlangu Square and the popular Jack Buddha tavern.

The next day was a highlight for many of the site guides as they were given a tour of the Cullinan Diamond Mine and the Kwalata Camp site where they did a game drive and ended off their two-day tour. For the site guides it was here that they thought about ways to improve their tours at the Long March To Freedom.

Site guide Mario had this to say:

The second day for me was very interesting as we learned that first impressions are very important. On our arrival to the Kwalata Camp the cultural dancer made me feel more than welcome. (Mario. NHM Siteguide)

Site guide Tumo shared this experience:

 I learned that it is always critical to maintain a professional attitude at all times. I now feel like being a tour guide is almost similar to being a waiter. This is because when we were at Kwalata Bush Camp we were pampered with luxurious African dining and I took time to observe the people serving us. You see for me now, guiding is a service. I am now in a stage of practising everything that I have learnt from my experience at Kwalata. (Tumo. NHM Site guide)

Another site guide, Alfred Mahapa who was familiar with the tourist attractions did learn that: “What interested me the most as a guide was learning how other guides conduct their tour in their respective sites.” (Alfred. NHM Site guide)

Momo also shared what she learnt from her two-day tour experience:

As a tour operator and guide, it cemented the value of my work and taught me how to present myself as a guide. I learnt that I must always be informed with every aspect concerning our country all the time. (Momo. NHM Site guide)

This two-day tour hosted by the Gauteng Tourism Authority was a blessing for the Long March To Freedom site guides as it allowed them to enjoy and learn about what other South African tourist attractions have to offer. It was fun for them to be the tourist for a change!

Celebrating Sports Heritage at the Long March To Freedom

Last month we were fortunate to have the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy visit the Long March To Freedom on 24 September, our national Heritage Day.

The young players were excited to be there and wanted to learn more about our struggle heroes. During their visit, one of the Long March site guides, Alfred Mahapa grew particularly interested in the history of soccer during the struggle period, and in particular, the role it played for political prisoners at Robben Island.

The prison on Robben Island was home to many of South African political prisoners during the Apartheid era. Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) including Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Stanley Magoba, Jacob Zuma, Steve Tshwete and hundreds of others who fought against the government were exiled to the island, many serving out long sentences that would see them leave as old men.

As with any prison, space if confined, and tasks repetitive and boring. Robben Island prisoners are known for their hard labour on the island’s lime quarries, and the daily menial tasks of every political prisoner worldwide, that included laundry duty and cleaning of the amenities. It was in this context, that soccer would prove to be, almost literally, a lifesaver.

In 1964 the inmates discovered a FIFA rulebook from the shelves of the prison library, which led to the formation of the Makana Football Association. This was the prison’s first football league. The association drew its name from the 19th Century Xhosa warrior, Makana, who was sentenced to prison on Robben Island after he tried to unite his people to overthrow the British Empire.

At first the men played secretly in their cells using balls made of paper, cardboard and rags. Then in 1965, after sustained lobbying, the authorities allowed prisoners to play outside on Saturdays. The teams built their own goals and threw off their prison uniforms to put on team colours.

Through the organising of teams, managers and referees, the league became official by 1967. The prison league played every Saturday for two hours, discussed the results of the game every Sunday evening, discussed the rules of the game from Monday to Wednesday and strategized and chose squads on a Thursday and Friday.

ANC member Steve Tshwete, sentenced to 15 years on Robben Island, played a vital role in the soccer league and other sports leagues. He ran the rugby club and the Athletics Association and was the vice-chairman of the Dynaspurs United, which was one of 27 football teams on the island. Interestingly, current South African President Jacob Zuma played central defender and was appointed as a referee for most of the matches.

Mandela, Sisulu and Ahmed Kathrada were banned outright from watching and participating in the soccer league that began in 1966 and ended in 1973, when it was shut down by the government and prison. They, as well as Govan Mbeki, were forced to watch the games secretly from an isolation wing of the island’s prison.

Prisoners in the wing were able to follow the progress of teams through a secret communication system and they found a way to actually watch many of the games, until the authorities built a wall that blocked their view.

Although the league was banned by the Apartheid government and prison in 1973, the league was a positive outlet for all of the prisoners. Soccer helped unite prisoners from various anti-apartheid organisations. Some prisoners were from the African National Congress (ANC) and others from the rival, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), who were renowned for their conflicting views on how to deal with the Apartheid government.

Two of the most godforsaken soccer pitches in the world are on Robben Island. This did not matter to the players of the game. After his release from Robben Island, Mandela shared his view on the prison soccer league and the World Cup: “While we were on Robben Island, the only access to the World Cup was on radio. Football was the only joy to prisoners.”

Did You Know: In 2007 the film ‘More than Just a Game’ was released in South Africa and chronicled the story of the prison league. It featured Tsotsi star Presley Chweneyagae and tells the soccer drama through the eyes of five men who spent their youth on the island: Anthony Suze, Liso Sitoto, Marcus Solomons, Sedick Isaacs and Mark Shinners. Harry Gwala also features in the movie, a leading political prisoner who is expected soon to join The Long March to Freedom.



Women’s Month Highlights:

The Long March to Freedom site has been jam packed with events this Women’s Month! Ranging from school visits to television interviews, the Long March to Freedom has really become a popular heritage site for all ages.

Our first event was receiving our first big school tour on Friday 11 August from the Ekukhanyiselweni Christian School in Tembisa.  The students were blown away by their visit to this unique outdoor history class.

History teacher Daniel Joseph took his class to visit the Long March to Freedom as part of one of their history assignments. The 23 students were each given one of the almost 100 sculptures on site to research and spent a long time getting to know the sculptures and their role in South Africa’s history.

Among the favourites were Shaka, King of the Zulus, Solomon Mahlangu, martyr from the 1976 Soweto Uprisings, and South Africa’s first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela.

Our second school visit, which was from the Indoni Junior Secondary School in Soweto, took place at the Long March to Freedom site on Thursday 17 August. Our site guide Tumo enjoyed this visit thoroughly:

“It was a great experience to host the Indoni Junior Secondary School. It was interesting to witness an exciting learning environment… You really had to be there to appreciate the beauty of having young people engage with the life-size statues.”

All schools are welcome to visit the Long March to Freedom which is open from Mondays to Sundays. For more visitor information, visit our websiteGet in touch for a guided school visit.

Our next event was an exciting experience as the Long March to Freedom was featured on the eTV show Frenzy. This was in line with preparations for Women’s month, during which they were recording inserts for the eTV shows Frenzy and Sisterhood. Our tour guide, Tumo was interviewed by the Frenzy presenters Walterique and Nkanyiso. Tumo gave a tour of the statues, explaining why they were so important. He explained that Fountains Valley is a resort in which one finds an amazing procession of South African heroes known as the Long March to Freedom.

One of the figures that captured the attention of the presenters was Queen Labotsibeni. They were fascinated to learn that she was a powerful woman who took over the Swazi throne after the death of her husband at a time when few African kingdoms allowed women to rule. She went on to form political alliances with the ANC and as a result was inducted as one of its Deputy Presidents. This was again a first as in its early years the ANC, then called the South African Native National Congress, did not allow full membership of women to the party. This convinced the presenters that she indeed deserved to be honoured and recognised during the Women’s month. Annie Silinga was also one of the significant, otherwise lesser known struggle icons that the presenters got to know about. Her refusal to carry a pass for all her life really made her stand out.

Throughout these exciting events the Long March to Freedom site was still fortunate in receiving diverse groups of visitors. Our site guide Mario enjoyed engaging with tourists who came to share the life of Chief Hintsa:

“When tourists come to the site and listens to the tour guides and they start to tell you more about the specific sculpture, that shows you how interested that person is.”

Our site guide Momo’s highlight of this past month was giving a tour to members of parliament:

“My highlight of this month was seeing how excited the parliamentarians were to see the sculptures and in particular how the chairperson was so amazed to see some of the Xhosa chiefs.”

Although the end of Women’s Month is upon us, we invite all for Heritage Month! To be a part of the Long March to Freedom’s highlights be sure to visit the site and share your experiences on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!

Today we commemorate one of the most influential events in South Africa’s history. On 9 August 1956, 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the carrying of passes by women—which severely restricted the movement of women across the country—as well as a host of other repressive legislation.

The march was led by four extraordinary women: Lilian Ngoyi, President of the Federation of South African Women (FedSAW), Helen Joseph, a founding member of FedSAW, Rahima Moosa, organiser of the Congress of the People, and Sophia Williams De-Bruyn, founder member of the South African Congress of Trade Unions.

The four leaders united behind them thousands of women who descended on Pretoria from all over South Africa to present petitions against the carrying of passes by women to then prime minister, Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom . Strydom was not present at the Union Buildings to accept the petitions, which included approximately 100 000 signatures, so they were handed over to the prime minister’s secretary.

When the four women returned from the offices, they entered the Union Buildings amphitheatre where thousands of protesters were waiting under umbrellas to hear the outcome of the handover. In a show of strength and solidarity against the prime minister’s absense, the women stood in silence for 30 minutes and then sang the newly created freedom song Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!, which later became a powerful song and slogan that translates into You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!

The 1956 march is noted as one of the largest and most influential demonstrations of the Apartheid era. Most women travelled through the night to take part in the march and many risked losing their jobs by joining it. Incidents of intimidation were reported on the day, with Apartheid police stopping trains and buses en route to the Union Buildings. Despite all attempts to silence the women, the turnout on the day far exceeded the expectations of the organisers.

African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) member Albertina Sisulu was one of the co-organisers of the march while Amina Cachalia, first treasurer of FedSAW, raised transport funds for the march through cake sales and other activities. Bertha Gxowa, another FedSAW founder member travelled with Helen Joseph in her small Volkswagen around the country in the weeks leading up to the march to collect the petitions that eventually would make it to the Union Buildings.

Although there were numerous popular women figures throughout the planning of this march, there were many others, including Annie Peters, Caroline Motsoaledi, Fatima Meer, Fatima Seedat, Florence Mophosho and Letitia Sibeko, who played a significant role. They were involved in the extensive planning of the demonstration and encouraged women from all walks of life to sign the petition and take time off to support the march.

The 9 August is an historic event that represents the courage and strength of South African women, and is an example of the power of unity across all racial backgrounds in a racist society. It depicts how women challenged the laws of the Apartheid state, and beyond that, challenged prevailing gender stereotypes that up until then judged women as a support act to the many causes being fought.

This Women’s Day, we honour three of the four leaders of the 1956 Women’s March: Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa, all to be found in the #LongMarchtoFreedom.

The Long March to Freedom at Fountains Valley is open on all public holidays. Tour guides are on site from 11:00 to 16:00.



The Young Patriots Induction Programme visit the Long March to Freedom procession

The Fountains Valley Resort was filled with excitement, singing and dancing on 25 July 2017 as the Department of Arts & Culture brought their Young Patriots Induction Programme to the Long March to Freedom in Fountains Valley and made it the first stop on their tour of Gauteng’s top heritage sites.

The Young Patriots Induction Programme is a new and inspirational initiative run by the Department of Arts & Culture. This programme welcomes youth from all provinces to work together to learn more about the country’s heritage by visiting various heritage sites in each province. And what better way to start this initiative than to visit one of the country’s newest and most exciting heritage sites?

As it was the first event of this programme the Department of Arts & Culture brought a group of three hundred people to visit two influential sites situated in Tshwane. They were the Long March to Freedom procession and Freedom Park, both within a few kilometres of one another. The procession currently hosts 100 bronze life-size figures representing generations of freedom fighters who were significant in South Africa’s struggle for democracy. Our passionate tour guides on site took visitors on a whirlwind tour of this fascinating and troubled history, beginning in the mid-1650s with the first chiefs and ending in 1994 at the dawn of democracy with Nelson Mandela, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo and Walter and Albertina Sisulu.

The young patriots were first welcomed to the Long March to Freedom by the National Heritage Monument (NHM) site guides Phuthego Shivambo, Tumo Bopape, Mario Costa Joao, Alfred Mahapa and Momo Tsatsi. These guides divided the crowd into four groups and gave them a tour of each sculpture. Although there are 100 figures it was evident which ones stood out for the visitors. NHM site manager Aya Gidi noticed how the young patriots were drawn to iconic figures such as Solomon Mahlangu, Chris Hani as well as Adelaide and Oliver Tambo. These figures were usually surrounded by vibrant songs and dancing youths who wanted to pay tribute to these powerful freedom fighters.

Although the tour only lasted two hours, the visit to the site was deemed a success as visitors were inspired to engage with South Africa’s history in a completely different and novel way. The visitors were not afraid to share their opinion and asked the site guides various questions about the history of South African politics and the liberation struggle. Others were deeply affected by the procession as it brought back memories and allowed them to share their stories and views of the liberation struggle.

The visit to The Long March to Freedom procession was a joyous event for The Young Patriots Induction Programme as well as the site guides. It was here that the guides were able to inform and inspire the youth to learn more about their heritage. Although it was the first stop in their heritage site visits, the Long March to Freedom tour was definitely an exciting experience for the youth as it encouraged them to appreciate heritage sites and also to honour those who risked their lives for a free and fair South Africa.

Some of the ambassadors of the Young Patriots Induction Programme posing with the statues, symbolically shaking hands as a sign of our reconciliation.