Win-win approach for heritage sites

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Win-win approach for heritage sites

In a gesture towards nation-building and reconciliation, 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 National Reconciliation Day, 16 December, last year.

Following an announcement by Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Voortrekker Monument - inaugurated in 1949 to commemorate the pioneering history of southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner - was declared a national heritage site in March.

Economic player

Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, said the projects would not only help highlight the country's history, but would also 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."

Dlamini-Zuma also announced details of a massive nationwide heritage route project to be 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 areas to highlight government's drive to unite all South Africans and promote the role of arts and culture in 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 Brandfort in the Free State will be restored and 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.

-Department of Arts and Culture