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Liberation Heritage Route

Date of Submission: 08/07/2009
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
National heritage council
State, Province or Region:
South Africa; Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State, Northern Cape, North West, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal Provinces.
Ref.: 5459

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Modelled along the Australian convict sites (Australia's Tentative List), the serial nomination of South Africa Liberation Heritage Route will consist of series of sites that in combination express the key aspects of the South African Liberation experience and the Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of global history. These attributes will also be reflected in other nominations from Southern African Development Community (SADC) which include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the ongoing process the sites identified are:

1. Robben Island: S 33 48 11.33 E18 21 49.41 - A recognized world Heritage property renowned as a place of banishment and incarceration of freedom fighters who are the current political leadership of South Africa..

2. University of Fort Hare: S32 47 17.87 E26 50 45.26 - The first Black University, famous as the learning centre of development and scholarship where most political leadership of both South Africa and Africa were educated, e.g Nelson Mandela (South African), Seretse Khama (Botswana), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Charles Njonjo (Kenya) and others.

3. Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication (Kliptown· Soweto): S26 16 10.70 E27 51 54.62 - A site in memory of the great Walter Sisulu, but most of all for being the venue where the ANC's Freedom Charter was tabled at the Congress of the People in 1955.

4. Nelson Mandela Sites such as: Qunu - S31 46 59.08 E28 37 02.1 - Home of Nelson Mandela where he spent his childhood; Mandela House (Soweto) S26 17 43.23 E27 51 11.83 - Home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, renowned heritage site associated with the liberation history;

5. Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe House: S28 43 29.50 E24 42 48.90 - Home of the founder and President of the Pan African Congress (which bas been in opposition to Apartheid), where he was placed under house arrest;

6. Steve Buntu Biko House and Zanempilo Clinic: S32 52 32.35 E27 23 23.56 - These are places associated with the freedom struggle led by Steve Biko;

7. Constitution Hill: S26 08 37.64 E28 02 59.01 - Once served as a Goal where the Rivonia trialists were detained and now it is a living museum;

8. Chief Albert Luthuli Museum (KZN): S29 55 05.63 E30 57 39.70 - Home of the first African Noble Peace Prize Laureate, who endured the leadership of the national liberation struggle and received global recognition;

9. Hector Peterson Memorial: S26 15 10.24 E27 52 18.81 - A memorial of the hundreds of students who were shot protesting against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instructions in 1976;

10. Sharpeville: S26 31 45.14 E27 52 23.78 - It is associated with the burning of passes as a protest against the Pass laws (under Apartheid), and the shooting that followed thereafter.

11. Sol Plaatjie House: S28*45'22.68S/24*44'34.63E - Sol Plaatjie devoted most of his life as a politician, writer and journalist to the course for the struggle of African people against the injustices and dispossession during the colonial and Apartheid periods;

12. Liliesleaf Farm: S26 08 58.33 E28 02 27.01 - A historical place of the liberation movement where the ANC leadership (Nelson Mandela, Denis Goldberg, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Elias Motsoaledi and Raymond Mhlaba) were arrested;

13. Avalon Cemetery: S26 16 35.28 E27 51 04.59- A place where many combatants of the struggle are buried.

More sites are to be identified and included.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The South African struggle for Liberation begins with regional wars of resistance against colonial domination, followed by a coordinated national struggle for freedom underpinned by the formation of national movements. The creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, which excluded the majority indigenous Africans, was a catalyst for the formation of the national movements. The national struggle climaxed during the Apartheid era (1948 - 1994) where gross human rights violations were prevalent Apartheid was declared by United Nations as a crime against humanity, and therefore the struggle against Apartheid became a universal struggle for Human Rights, freedom and democratic values, as enshrined in the UN Charter (Article 1) and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), as well as the under UNESCO Constitution which inter alia states, 'since it is in minds of men that wars begin, it is those minds that the defenses of peace must be constructed'. The struggle for Human Rights, Freedom and Democracy took a "liberation" form when adopted by the Organization of African Union (OAU) culminating in the "liberation struggle" that encompassed most countries of Southern and Eastern Africa, in turn resulting in the attainment of freedom and independence in those countries (e.g. Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and others).

In October 2005, the following Southern African Development Community countries who were largely involved in the liberation struggle sponsored Draft Resolution 33C/29 at the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, joined by Cote d'Ivoire. On the recommendation of the Commission for Culture (Commission IV) the 33rd General Conference unanimous]y adopted 'Roads to Independence: African Liberation Heritage' essentially recognizing this type of heritage as of universal value and significance.

The raison d' etre for that Resolution was premised on:

1. African Liberation Heritage as a common heritage of shared global values (Human Rights, Freedom, Democracy etc)

2. Promoting dialogue amongst nations and cultures

3. Developing and promoting a culture of peace

4. Contributing to the memory of the world

5. Generating data and data bases that raise awareness.

The proposed South African nomination should thus be viewed in this context as the first instalment of a transnational seriaI nomination. The nomination while embracing South Africa is part of the Southern African Development Community, seriaI nomination. In terms of Decision 29 COM 18A (Durban, July 2005), this nomination can be registered exclusively within the ceiling of the bearing State".

The proposed nomination takes on board the Decisions of the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee (Quebec City, Canada, 2-10 July 2008), item 10, "Global Strategy for a representative, balanced and credible World Heritage List (WHC 08/32COM 10B) as well as the African Position Paper on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention adopted by 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee (Durban, 2005) the Sixth Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit of Heads of States held in Khartoum, January 2006. More importantly, the submission will address issues elucidated in paragraph 7 of World Heritage Committee's Decision 32 COM 10 B specially providing a list of existing serial properties on WH List and calling for State Parties to submit by the time of the 33rd Session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2009 a list of "all known-potential future serial nominations". SADC countries are in consultations to submit such a future transnational serial nomination.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The South African Liberation Heritage Route constitute of a series of sites linked together by a common historical narrative of the liberation struggle and experience. The sites that have been identified, including the aforementioned sites, consist of historical evidence of events and activities associated with the liberation history. Some sites such as Robben Island, University of Fort Hare, Constitution Hill and graves of prominent leaders at Avalon Cemetery are still intact in their original form (as their physical fabric has not diminished in form, quality and aesthetics) and present authentic elements in terms form, use, motif and meaning inscribed on the physical fabric. Some sites are well documented while others are not, however there are several research initiatives nationwide aimed at recording and documenting the sites in order to develop a comprehensive data bank or information portal.

Certain popular sites such as Robben Island, Mandela House, Constitution Hill, Sharpeville, Liliesleaf Farm and other which often attract visitor attention, bear rich information sources in the form of written text and recorded oral narratives which provide context and depth into the history of the sites. At policy level, the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 makes specific provision for the protection of historical sites through a formal process of grading and declaration. In practice the legal status of some of the sites particularly historical structures and buildings that have been formally declared as heritage resources possess conservation management plans, "in order to ensure effective in situ conservation. While some historical structures and buildings which are dilapidated form part of the restorative and rehabilitation missions by professional bodies.

Comparison with other similar properties

As per the Australian convict sites which express key aspects of Australian convict experience and the universal impact it had, the South African Liberation Heritage Route, as part of African Liberation Heritage, expresses a far wider phenomenon involving millions of people as they struggled for emancipation from oppression. The universality of those values is reflected in the many Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, as well as the UN Commission on Human Rights, and also Advisory Opinions of the International Court of Justice. The new nomination will include Robben Island which is already inscribed on the World Heritage List, and which will retain its status and not be subsumed by a larger, seriaI nomination or transnational nomination (para138 of Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention).

The proposed nomination in both the South African context as well as in the context of the 12 SADC countries demonstrates exchange of values, dialogue among people, cultures and experiences. In this way, the nomination is comparable to Struve Goedic Arc. This route (Arc) brings together 10 countries ( Belarus, Estonia, Finland Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Moldavia, the Russian Federation, Sweden and Ukraine). The idea and values that brought them together are captured in the scientific notion of "triangulation" discovered by Fredrick George Wilhelm Struve. Similarly the notion of "Liberation" was borne out of SADC experiences and is also captured in the Organisation of African Union (OAU) Declarations (OAU bas been succeeded by the African Union - AU).