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Human Rights, Liberation Struggle and Reconciliation: Nelson Mandela Legacy Sites

Date of Submission: 15/04/2015
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Department of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa
State, Province or Region:
Gauteng; KwaZulu-Natal; Eastern Cape; Western Cape Provinces
Ref.: 6051

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

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





Grid ref. (long/lat)


University of Fort Hare, Healdtown, Lovedale, St Matthews Complex

Healdtown, Lovedale, Clarkebury and St Matthews are at an important interchange of dialogue of Africa and Europe.  One of the defining aspects of the dialogue and conflict of civilisations in South Africa and globally is missionary education.  These three became important centres of  missionary education.  They are located on landscape that had been ravaged by 100 years of wars of dispossession. They produced Southern African leaders who presented a synthesis of Western and African values.  The University of Fort Hare is regarded as the melting pot of the African nationalism influencing other African countries in the liberation of the continent.

32.786783S, 26.848673E


Union Buildings

Governmental buildings, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with towers and gardens, completed in 1913. Created to symbolise the Union of South Africa in 1910 which marked the exclusion of Africans; Seat of power for repressive colonial regimes including the Nationalists Apartheid regime; Target of protest and resistance to apartheid including the 1956 multi-racial Women’s March; became symbol of democratic Reconciliation as new post apartheid government executive retained the Buildings as seat of the executive;

Memory of class struggles.




Sophiatown and District Six Forced Removals Memorial Sites

Apartheid policy of racial separation; forced removal (creates area for whites), defiance campaign, efforts of working class, role of youths, reconciliation (rainbow nation).

These sites demonstrate a particularly brutal form of town planning, and a way of living that has since been overthrown, but whose impact lingers on long after it is gone.

26.175271S, 27.976083E (Sophiatown)


Kliptown (Walter Sisulu Square) and the Freedom Charter;

This site draws attention to the Non-Racial Fight for Human Rights and Freedom, draws attention to the values contained in the SA Freedom Charter, a document that draws very strongly from global founding documents on Human Rights, which has a very strong emphasis on reconciliation and inclusion. The values of universal freedom, dialogue continue in this site.

26.272737S, 27.887839E


Chief Albert Luthuli Home & Museum;

Howick Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KZN; Manaye Hall and Reconciliation Sites in Pietermaritzburg,

& Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory

Chief Albert Luthuli was probably the first ANC and liberation leader to gain the kind of international stature he gained and is acknowledged as the first African leader to become a Nobel Peace Laureate. His leadership inspired generations of liberation activists and yet he spent most of his later life under house arrest. His home and now memorial museum houses authentic collections of his times and role in the liberation struggle. When Mr Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 at Howick in KZN, he was coming from consulting with Luthuli. His arrest was the catalyst for a series of trials, culminating in the Rivonia Treason Trial that would ultimately see him spend 27 years in prison.

Manaye Hall in Pietermaritzburg was the site of the first major attempt to bring together all South African political role players to find a peaceful reconciliation to the conflict.  From the 1980s to mid-1990s itbecame the epicentre of low intensity conflict that was aimed to delay the advent of human rights and liberation.  This conflict was resolved through negotiation and reconciliation, testified to by diverse sites in the Pietermaritzburg area. 


The life and times of Nelson Mandela’s generation of leaders is best represented by the collection at Mandela Centre for Memory. This place tells the story of Nelson Mandela and the values that he represented. It hosts documents speeches and photographs that reveal authenticity and integrity to the many events that unfolded in the liberation struggle for South Africa. It became the focal point for many gatherings by world’s statesmen and women to collaborate on strengthening the global human rights and reconciliation agenda.



(Luthuli Museum)



29.47 S

30,23 E



29.62 S

30.38 E




S 26° 08'55.6"

E 28° 03'30.6

(Mandela Centre)


Palace of Justice High Court and the Rivonia Treason Trial (1963)

Venue of the Rivonia Treason Trial

Where Mr Mandela  made the speech: “I am Accused Number one … I am prepared to die if needs be” Speech.  One of the sites of the subversion of justice in the service of violating human rights.  It became a terrain of struggle where various political trialists indicted the colonial situation, and demonstrated links to the global human rights struggle.

25.744599S, 28.187535E


Sharpeville & Langa 1960 Massacre Memorial Sites

Massacre Sites associated with passive resistance and search for human rights and justice.  The events at these sites accentuated international attention, accelerated the emergence of UN Resolutions, consolidated the internationalisation of the South African question.  These events were clear examples of the violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While they are evidence of the brutality of the oppressor, courage of the oppressed – they are also reminders of the value of peace, reconciliation and human rights.

26.686948S, 27.871538E

33.943927S, 18.527157E


Liliesleaf Farm Liberation Memorial Site

Planning of armed struggle;

Liberation Movement;

First UMkhonto We Sizwe operations – change from escalation from passive resistance to military,

Multi-racial fight for democracy.

26.043536S, 28.053617E


Vilakazi Street Soweto & Hector Petersen Memorial Museum in Soweto

Defiance; Liberation movement and ideals; human rights – produced 2 Nobel Laureates (Tutu and Mandela, and Chief Luthuli once had ties to the same street);

Reconciliation; Memorial to Youth Activism and struggle for equal rights and access to education, memorial to youth victims of the state violence.

26.238541S, 27.909177E

26.234952E, 27.909468S


Constitutional Hill and Truth & Reconciliation Commission


Ideals of human rights and constitutional democracy; principle of restorative justices and reconciliation.

26.189818S, 28.043345E


Freedom Park National Memorial Site


And Waihoek Site

Chronicles the journey of evolution of the struggle for human rights, freedom and justice; Celebrating democracy, human rights and reconciliation – the encompassing symbol of the story of South Africa. Freedom Park is situated on Salvokop in Pretoria. It 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.


Waaihoek site is an important representative of the domestication of international tools of political engagement, the transition to modern political movements with the formation of a National Liberation Movement that sought participation of the excluded in a united South Africa, rather than a reclamation of previous polities.





29.1167° S, 26.2167° E


Nelson Mandela Sites (Qunu, Mvezo, Mqekezweni)

These sites collectively illustrate the role of traditional African values in democratic and participatory governance. The associated context shaped a leader like Nelson Mandela. They also signify the role of youth in achieving positive change. These sites collectively are a powerful symbol of the complex interaction between rural and urban in situations of a migratory labour system.  They are one of the metaphors for the relationship of the urban and rural in the evolution of the modern political setup.  

S31 46 59.08 E28 37 02.1


Steve Bantu Biko Associated Sites and Zanempilo Clinic

These are associated with the Black Consciousness movement which emerged in the 1970s to fight the repressive Apartheid regime after political formations were banned. The killing of Biko drew global attention, consolidated international solidarity and changed the tone, emphasis and focus of the SA human rights and liberation struggle in a big way. They are sites at which new and alternative engagements with the universal idea of Blackness were developed and demonstrated.

S32 52 32.35 E27 23 23.56

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Across the entire world, human rights have emerged as one of the most powerful force and universally cherished value in the 20th and 21st centuries.  The UN Declaration of Human Rights fundamentally states that human rights are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. And yet, the excesses of colonialism in Africa challenged this universal recognition. For example, the introduction of Apartheid in South Africa in the same year that the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, paved the way for human rights violations on an unprecedented scale. The apartheid regime universally ranks as one of the world’s most extremely oppressive and racist colonial rules. Various UN resolutions were taken to declare Apartheid a crime against humanity, to campaign for the release of its political captives and return of exiles. The story of South Africa’s liberation immortalizes the struggle against human rights abuse, the achievement of freedom and magnanimous racial reconciliation through the tenacious efforts of leaders and civilians.  This story is a chapter in the global story of African roads to independence and self-determination. This quest for human rights was given a soul when the Freedom Charter created by Africans, Coloureds, Indians and whites was launched in Kliptown. Through passive and active resistance such as the Defiance Campaign, South Africans protested against unjust laws which precipitated massacres of innocent masses at Sharpeville and Langa.

As the repression intensified, political parties went underground but were heavily watched by the state repression apparatus. A number of influential liberation leaders were arrested at Liliesleaf farm sparking the infamous Rivonia Trial where Mandela and other leaders were imprisoned for life. The excesses of Apartheid created an unprecedented global fight using arts, music, sanctions and resistance in pursuit of human rights and freedom. Nelson Mandela became the face of the struggle and came to represent its values. He became the symbolic focus of the campaign to free political prisoners, and return exiles.  With the freeing of political prisoners, conflict-ridden negotiations for an independent South Africa ensued resulting in a multi-racial democracy in 1994. Nelson Mandela and the collective he was part of preached human rights, unity, reconciliation and forgiveness, which rescued the nation from the throes of civil war thereby creating a phenomenon of global interest.  Many countries and regions grapple with conflict and divisions and are developing solutions for emerging out of these challenges. South Africa’s quest for human rights, freedom and eventual reconciliation is truthfully etched in places like Sharpeville, Kliptown (Freedom Charter), Liliesleaf Farm, and the Rivonia Trial and among others the Freedom Park and Nelson Mandela’s birth and burial place at Qunu.

These places immortalize distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of exceptional importance to humanity. The South African liberation struggle is the only one in the world, which produced four Nobel Laureates in a single generation. In recognition of these sacrosanct values and to honour Mandela, the United Nations has declared an international Mandela Day for good deeds demonstrating their exceptional significance to humanity. The issues that were the subject of contestation remain of global importance to humanity’s quest to plant peace in the minds of humanity.

Criterion (ii): The serial site exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time within southern Africa and the world in fighting against one of the most repressive colonial systems and for freedom, justice and human rights for all. This therefore throws light on to the importance of internal and international collaboration in fighting for human rights and freedom.

Criterion (iii): The serial site bears a unique and exceptional testimony to the global liberation struggle movement, fight for universal freedom and human rights and the principles of reconciliatory justice and forgiveness as a political tool to supplant the old tradition of “Victor or Winners’ justice”. Thus, this is a perpetual reminder of the liberation struggle and reconciliation.

Criterion (iv): A number of the selected buildings are outstanding illustrations of the significant stage of  apartheid colonial period in human history.

Criterion (vi): The serial site has tangible locations directly associated with extraordinary fights for freedom and human rights, ideas and works for universal justice, struggle for freedom and the new culture of political tolerance and reconciliation. Thus, this site constitutes a vast reserve of memory of universal scope and considerable potential, linked to the liberation from one of the most oppressive regimes. The property is directly associated with the global ideas of human rights and liberation.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The values encapsulated in the Human Rights, Liberation and Reconciliation: South African Liberation Legacy Sites meet the condition of authenticity as drawn from the Nara Document on Authenticity and expounded in the operational guidelines. The Nara Document allows for authenticity in respect of social, cultural, emotional and spiritual values and living traditions, particularly those prevailing in non-western contexts. The values encapsulated in the sites presented which represent the fight for a multi-racial democracy such as freedom from tyranny, racial harmony, reconciliation and restorative justice from a notorious regime that galvanised the entire world against it are authentic in terms of feeling and spirit, and therefore have intangible value.

The Human Rights, Liberation and Reconciliation: South African Liberation Heritage Legacy Sites comprise of values immortalized by places situated in different provinces that make up the serial site. When combined, the ensemble of values such as freedom, human rights, and reconciliation contain the uncontested evidence of the struggle for democracy and human rights as one of the roads to independence and self-determination. Taken together, the site is a formidable reservoir of knowledge for present and future generations. These places have associated buildings, spaces, rooms and original documents that are testimony to the struggle for independence, restorative justice and hope. The prisons where freedom fighters were incarcerated in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town still exist and will forever be reminders of the excesses of the Apartheid regime repressive justice system. Therefore, the authenticity is based on the presence of credible information sources and understandings about attributes that anchor the value.

As regards authenticity, the values associated with liberation have been universally affirmed while the individual sites not only narrate the story in its totality but are also perpetual reminders of the triumph of human spirit over adversity. The documents such as the freedom charter, the speeches made in and outside prison and judgements are also authentic documents that crystallises memories associated with liberation and eventual reconciliation. Thus, the values, documents, and places truthfully narrate the story of liberation struggle, quest for human rights and efforts to achieve reconciliation.

Comparison with other similar properties

The phenomenon of colonialism covered many centuries and many parts of the world and Africa.  This nomination deals with the human rights aspect of the SA Experience. The entry point to the phenomenon of colonialism and the liberation heritage is illustrated by the experience of South Africa, one of the earliest settler colonies in Africa and the last to attain liberation in the form of democracy. Since Resolution 33C/29 of the Commission for Culture (Commission IV) of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was passed, no single site has been listed in pursuit of this resolution. The type of liberation heritage and values represented by the struggle for South Africa’s independence and democracy can help to achieve this goal of increasing representation and balance. 

Country Level

Main Characters


Robben Island

Imprisonment, Banishment in castration culminating in imprisonment for 27 years Mandela.

Robben Island a result of the actions

Events associated with the movement, fight for justice, human rights, reconciliation and liberation.

Galvanises the whole country.

But It only tells the story of banishment and imprisonment. It does not represent what was going on outside Robben Island nor does it show case be genesis of the movement and what it represented.


Regional Level

Main Characters


Sites in Algeria

Setif and Guelma Massacres of 1945

Confrontation between locals and French colonial forces which sparked killing of 6000 people. Algerians were fighting for human rights like those at Sharpeville, Langa and Soweto

Sites in Angola

Sites associated with battle for Cuito Canavale (1987-88)

Innocent killing of civilians, human rights abuses, fight against Apartheid South Africa’s aggression

Sites in Mozambique

Wiriyamu Massacre, Tete 1973

Portuguese forces killed between 150 and 300 villagers at Wiriyamu in Tete.

Sites in Zimbabwe

Wankie and Sipolilo (1967 to 1968)

Joint cooperation between Luthuli Detachment of ANC and Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army to fight against Rhodesian forces

Rwanda Genocide sites on Tentative list

Ethnic/racial hatred, discrimination, human rights violations victims

Across ethnic and racial groups movement. Opposed to Rwanda and the oppression of one by another. Ideas opposed by people like Mandela.


Global Level

Main Characters


Australian Convicts

Serial sites forming a single WHS property that tell a universally significant story of humanity.

The site is a serial site that tells the story of human rights abuses associated with the establishment of the empire in Australia


German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945), Poland: this World Heritage Site was listed on the basis of Criterion vi. It commemorates the victims of Nazi extermination policies. Apart from the values, it is also supported by a network of sites which have evidence of gas chambers and other infrastructure for torture

Auschwitz resulted from a policy of extreme racism that also inspired Apartheid in South Africa. It is associated with gross human violations and mass killings. Apartheid South Africa forcibly removed people, massacred innocent civilians in order to achieve state sponsored racism

Statue of Liberty USA

Criterion (vi): The symbolic value of the Statue of Liberty lies in two basic factors. It was presented by France with the intention of affirming the historical alliance between the two nations. It was financed by international subscription in recognition of the establishment of the principles of freedom and democracy by the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which the Statue holds in her left hand. The Statue also soon became and has endured as a symbol of the migration of people from many countries into the United States in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. She endures as a highly potent symbol – inspiring contemplation, debate and protest – of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity.


Statue of Liberty WHS in New York, the USA – This site commemorates freedom from oppression, liberty and friendship as universal human values


Independence Hall USA

The Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776 in this fine 18th century building in Philadelphia, to be followed in 1787 by the framing of the Constitution of the United States of America. Although conceived in a national framework and hence of fundamental importance to American history, the universal principles of freedom and democracy set forth in these documents were to have a profound impact on lawmakers and political thinkers around the world. They became the models for similar charters of other nations, and may justly be considered to have heralded the modern era of government.

Criterion (vi): The universal principles of the right to revolution and self-government as expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) and Constitution (1787), which were debated, adopted, and signed in Independence Hall, have profoundly influenced lawmakers and politicians around the world. The fundamental concepts, format, and even substantive elements of the two documents have influenced governmental charters in many nations and even the United Nations Charter.


The ideas behind the American Declaration of Independence have promoted democracy and human rights across the globe. The Freedom Charter has equal significance to the American Declaration of independence

Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg


These places in Saxony-Anhalt are all associated with the lives of Martin Luther and his fellow-reformer Melanchthon. They include Melanchthon's house in Wittenberg, the houses in Eisleben where Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546, his room in Wittenberg, the local church and the castle church where, on 31 October 1517, Luther posted his famous '95 Theses', which launched the Reformation and a new era in the religious and political history of the Western world.


These sites also demonstrate the powerful interchange between global values, social movements and personalities who propagate and represent these.

The State Party draw comparison on three levels. First is comparison on the decision to use serial nomination as the best form of capturing the OUV of the Human Rights, Liberation and Reconciliation: South African Liberation Legacy Sites. This class of heritage is best represented in its evolutionary nature that unravelled or is captured at different times and localities. The Australian Convict Sites made up of over 1000 sites (Australia) No 1306 presents a strong comparative case in this regard for this nomination. The second comparison draws from sites associated with extraordinary ideas, events and massacre sites. This includes listed sites such as Auschwitz which is a World Heritage Site associated with gross human rights violations and the Independence Hall of America which is associated with democracy, liberty and human rights. There are also massacre sites on the African continent which are testimony to the brutal nature of the fight for human rights on the continent. These sites are part of the reason why African countries successfully sponsored Resolution 33C/29 in which UNESCO acknowledged African liberation as an important category which must be represented on the World Heritage List. The third level of comparison is that of nominating places associated with personalities and movements that represent an era and unique values and ideas that made a major impact in society.