What is the National Heritage Monument?
The National Heritage Monument (also referred to as the NHM) and the Long March to Freedom (LMTF) is an extensive public urban development, conceived as a prominent and iconic South African National Heritage and Tourism initiative. Both the NHM and LMTF are owned by the National Heritage Project Non-Profit Company.
What is The Long March to Freedom?
The Long March to Freedom forms the backbone of the National Heritage Monument and is a monumental procession of 100 statues that will grow into 500 statues over time.
The National Heritage Project Non-Profit Company is the special-purpose holding company that owns, develops and operates the National Heritage Monument and Long March to Freedom.
Where can I visit the statues?
The 100 life-size bronzes in The Long March to Freedom can be viewed at the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind Visitor Centre, Mogale City.
When can I visit the statues?
The visiting hours of the Cradle of Humankind Visitor Centre apply.
Visiting Hours: Mondays to Sundays: 09h00 – 17h00
Tour Guides: Mondays to Sundays: 09h00 – 17h00
Maropeng closes at 21:00 every day.
There are no admission fees tied to the Long March to Freedom. However, if you are interested in exploring the exhibition at Maropeng there is a fee attached to that, further information on that fee can be sourced on their website – https://www.maropeng.co.za/.
Can I take photos of the statues?
Yes and you can also post it on social media.
Can I republish this in a publication?
Yes as long as we are credited © National Heritage Monument / National Heritage Non-Profit Company.
Can I touch the statues?
How long should I plan for my visit?
Depends on you. If you read all the information panels that accompany the statues, probably around 3-4 hours, but if you walk through to get a general idea of the people being honoured about 1-2 hours. We suggest you spend a whole morning or afternoon here, to get the most out of your visit.
What should I take?
As this is an outdoor exhibition it can get rather hot during summer so bring some sunscreen and hat. In general, one should always have comfortable walking shoes to really walk along the procession. In the event that you don’t have a hat, the site guides also have umbrellas to protect against the sun. During the change of season, in winter, bring a jacket or jersey as it does tend to get cold on site.
There are also facilities at Maropeng where you can purchase refreshments and food and there are some outdoor exhibitions were you can purchase items. Most importantly, don’t forget your camera.
Are there toilets on site?
Yes, there are, they are a short walk from the Long March to Freedom, they are based at the Maropeng market place.
Is it universally accessible?
Parking is relatively close by the statues, which are a short walk away. Work is underway to create a new surface that will allow for universal access. The surface between the bronzes is grassed.
Do you have tour guides on site? Do we need to book them?
Tour guides are available on site every day. If you plan on booking a trip, the booking system is done through Maropeng, you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Statue Questions
How many statues are there?
There are currently 100 statues,
The aim is to have 500 over the next couple of years.
How did you choose who should be in the procession?
The original concept of the procession was to redress South Africa’s history and to highlight how many people, aside from the well-known figures were involved in over 350 years of struggle for liberation. Stories that have never been told before are captured in this procession.
The professional team, which includes researchers, historians, members of political affiliations, undergo a constant process of deliberation on who to include in the procession. They are incredible people in the line-up, icons of their time.
Who does the research?
The project has its own team of researchers, supported by respected and accredited historians.
Were the families of the individuals represented involved in the making of the statue?
As far as possible. Some were sometimes asked to supply photos and items (e.g. clothes) of their family members.
How can I get my relative in the line-up?
Feel free to send us an email (get the email address from our website). We welcome all suggestions; please also send us an accompanying motivation letter.
Who made the statues?
Literally, hundreds of South Africans from around the country are involved in the making of these bronze statues – from the artists who design and make the statues to the four or five foundries and hundreds of foundry workers who physically produce them, backed by an NHM team that coordinates everything.
About 35 South African artists have currently produced these bronzes, and some of them have conducted mentorships in conjunction with the foundries. And many would-be up and coming artists have been trained as sculptors during this process.
How do you choose what age they should be?
We try to determine when they were the most active in important eras in their lives and when their contribution to the liberation struggle is deemed to have been the greatest. We hope to capture a significant moment in South Africa’s history and their lives. But sometimes we also have to look at what age they would be the most recognizable to the general public, as we want people to identify with their heroes and not feel alienated by them.
Why are the warriors and chiefs at the back?
The Long March to Freedom is a chronological timeline of South Africa’s liberation history that you can walk through, from the earliest wars of resistance (at the back of the procession) to the dawn of democracy (in the front).
Why does it end in 1994?
It is the cut-off year for the entire procession. No statues have been made of figures beyond this period. 1994 is deemed to be the end of an era that began in the 1600s and ended in 1994. After 1994 South Africa’s history changed dramatically after the first democratic elections, and a procession of that time would tell a new and different story.
Why is the surface of some statues quite smooth and on others quite rough?
Different artists have different ways of sculpting. Some like to finish off their sculpture with a smooth finish, with a lot of very fine detail, others almost do a sketch in clay – quite rough, not a lot of detail, you just get an idea of the person but not down to his last shoelace. This is the beauty of the procession – if all the statues were the same, it might turn out to be quite boring.
Why is there colour on the statues?
Imagine when there are 400 or 500 statues and they are all in bronze, left in the colour of bronze, all you would get is a sea of brown. The colour livens the procession, and draws your attention to certain details of dress they are wearing or objects they are carrying or have been put onto the statue. It also brings these icons to life and infuses them with personality.
How do the artists and foundries create those colours?
The colours are in actual fact, patinas, these are acids that are applied through heat from a blow torch to the bronze sculpture. This then gives the sculpture a specific colour depending on what the artist and management team have decided upon. The sculptures are also treated with a special wax as bronze that is untreated will oxidize and turn green.
How regularly are they cleaned?
Statues are dusted and wiped weekly. Proper cleaning and treatment of the statues will take place one to every six months.
How accurate are the statues?
The statues are very accurate. All statues are carefully researched. We spend a lot of time on the portrait, the height, the clothing, on details like what they carry. We investigate the types of glasses, shoes and jewellery that reflect the time and the person. There is also an element of interpretation by the artist in each of these works, as they are not only historical figures but also artworks.
Is there anything like it in the world?
As far as we understand it, this is the largest outdoor representational sculptural display of specific historical individuals in the world. It is truly a world first! It also interprets the history of South Africa, through a focused creation of art works.
Who made the statues?
About 35 different artists from around the country have been involved in making the sculptures. Some of them have been making bronze sculptures for a long time already; others are relatively new to this medium. We also have a mentorship programme running, where upcoming black artists are mentored by more experienced artists. We have worked with some of these ‘mentorees’ who even after doing just one sculpture with an experienced artist have gone on to do their own statue. They seem to just have the gift.
Why have you not made a statue of …
Good idea, please go to our website and leave a suggestion there.
Do you have a social media presence?
Yes, we do. You can reach us across a number of social media platforms. You can reach us via the following links:
And finally, search for us on TripAdvisor and share your experience!
Overall Project Questions
A rule of thumb is that if there are any difficult questions you don’t know how to answer…
Please tell the person to contact the NHM office via the website, www.nhmsa.co.za or alternatively, ask the person to write it down in the visitor’s book and you will contact the professional team.
Who is running the project?
The project is owned, developed and managed by the National Heritage Project Non-Profit Company.
How much did the project cost?
An exact figure cannot be provided here however, you are welcome to contact the project directors. We welcome you to leave a comment on the website and request an appointment with the project directors. You can contact us at email@example.com or alternatively you can reach us at (011) 646 8385.
How much does each statue cost?
The production of one of these bronze statues costs about R500 000. This cost covers the research, overall project management and training involved.
How does this project create jobs?
The production of one of these statues involves hundreds of people, artists, foundry people, people taught to apply wax, weld, make moulds, patina, pour bronze – it is job creation on a massive scale.
Who is funding it?
The project has previously been funded by:
The National Lotteries Commission, the Department of Arts and Culture, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Trade and Industry.
Gauteng Provincial Department: Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation. The website development was funded by MTN SA Foundation.
Why are the statues at Maropeng?
The statues are at Maropeng due to the development of a partnership between Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind and the National Heritage Monument. This partnership has created an improved experience for visitors at the world heritage site. The quality and significance of the project deserves that it be showcased and exposed to a greater number of domestic and international visitors.
Who owns the statues?
The National Heritage Project Non-Profit Company is responsible for looking after and ensuring the well-being of the statues.
Is this an ANC project?
Not at all. Aimed at being inclusive of all political groupings involved in South Africa’s history. There are figures from other organisations in the line-up, and even more are still to come. The ANC dominated South Africa’s liberation struggle, and might therefore be more present in certain eras than others, but on the whole the procession aims to honour significant people who contributed to the liberation struggle irrespective of their political party.
How can I get involved?
Contact the professional team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on (011 – 646 8385) or reach out to us via social media. We are on
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NationalHeritageMonument
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/nhm_sa and
Twitter – https://twitter.com/NHM_SA.
Please indicate what your exact request is.
I am an artist, how can I get involved?
Contact us at email@example.com, the professional team will add you to the database of artists. Please provide a portfolio of your work in the event that you are interested in.
I want to be a Tour guide, how can I get involved
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then add your name to the database.
Why the focus on bronze statues, are they still relevant in the 21st century?
In the past, statues were largely large male figures elevated above the common individual, usually on a horse, commemorating a largely colonial history. We are aiming to redress South Africa’s history, in an anti-monument kind of way, by putting the statues on the ground, by making them accessible and by letting them tell a different story.
There has been a call to decolonize education, we are decolonizing bronze statues. The bigger aim is that of nation-building, social cohesion, and understanding our common heritage and history.
How is this project going to contribute to national development?
Already the project has revived the bronze-making industry, creating a renewed love for bronze sculptures, and made bronze casting services boom. Foundries who were on the verge of collapse have been able to grow beyond expectations and more young artists are being taught the skills of the ancient bronze-making traditions that many thought would die out.
Can I create a link to your website?
Please send an email to email@example.com.
Can I hold my birthday or wedding at the Monument?
Please contact the Maropeng Visitor Centre to find out what the available function options are.
I need to research some historical facts for my homework assignment. Can you help?
The NHM does not have the resources to help with general historical research but please send us your query; we will help if we can. Please query website, Facebook page, twitter page, use info on website.
Can I use the photos taken off the website for projects or my own photos that I have taken at the Long March to Freedom?
You may use the images of the statues for non-commercial purposes, as long as you credit: © National Heritage Monument / National Heritage Non-Profit Company.
DISCLAIMER: You may not use any archival images displayed on this website or on the information panel. The National Heritage Project Company does not hold the rights to any of the images displayed on the panels.
My question was not raised here, who can I contact?
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to answer any questions.