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A Long March to Freedom

Apr 9, 2019, Author: Hello Joburg

Visiting Maropeng’s Long March to Freedom Exhibition is more than a cultural experience.  

For Mr Dali Tambo, son of Oliver Tambo, CEO of the National Heritage Project NPC and originator of the National Heritage Monument, the Long March to Freedom Exhibition holds much more than almost 100 bronzes and an estimated value of R100 Million. It holds history. It holds sentiment. And love. Love for his parents, Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, but also love for a country he clearly holds dear. 

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MDali Tambo has devoted seven years to seeking funding and support for this project and exhibition that will remain at Maropeng for a period of six months having started in January 2019. The exhibition was previously located at the Fountains Valley Resort in the City of Tshwane and attracted hundreds of visitors there. Now located at a world heritage site, the National Lottery funded statues might even draw more attention. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site boasts over 400 tourism offerings and Maropeng and Sterkfontein are receiving over 30 000 visitors per year. It seems to be the perfect fit for the Long March to Freedom Exhibition, teaching South African learners and students, as well as local and international tourists more about South Africa’s heritage.  

Mr Dali Tambo is currently busy working on a documentary about Oliver Tambo and in working on it, he says he has once again realised that his parents’ story is one of love and revolution. Their story formed part of a bigger one – a story of a country which saw its people turn at the very brink of catastrophe to forge a new future for its people by shaping a Constitution where the rights of every individual are protected and defended.  

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South Africa has experienced the ravages of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. With the exhibition, Maropeng seeks to tell the story of human frailty and human survival, in all its complexity and depth. Here, people can reflect on where we have come from, but also consider where we currently are and contemplate our future.  

The exhibition is an ode to the veterans of the struggle who fought against Apartheid. It represents the journey of South African people like Oliver and Adelaide Tambo and Nelson and Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who fought for freedom and democracy. The struggle was not isolated; it relied on numerous contacts and connections from around the world, which is why the exhibition also reflects the inter-connected nature of the human spirit. It represents the unquenchable human desire to be free and it showcases the struggle of individuals against the backdrop of a collective narrative which fought tirelessly against oppression. It tells the South African story of oppression to freedom; degradation to respect; enslavement to liberation. It speaks of a future filled with hope.  

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Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr’s bronze statues were recently unveiled at the site – be sure to make a day of it and take time to walk through these magnificent art pieces. You’ll be surprised at the emotions they provoke – the biggest of them all: Love for our country.  

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