Sunday, March 20, 2011

Freedom Park Part 1 - S'kumbuto

Freedom Park in Pretoria tells the tale of South Africa in the voice of the South African people.  What makes the place even more special is that it urges us to experience our shared history and heritage as brothers and sisters and hopes to dispel the myths and prejudices that has distorted and concealed the image and achievements of South Africa in the past.  Since its opening in 2009 I've been wanting to visit but every time I got up to that part of the country something seem to come up and thwart my plans.  So on my last visit I made sure to put some time aside and headed to Freedom Park before I had to catch my plane back home.

The main memorial area at Freedom Park has a siSwati name and is called S'khumbuto.  It stands as a testimonial to eight conflicts that have shaped South Africa into what it is today.  These conflicts are the Pre-Colonial Wars, Slavery, Genocide, Wars of Resistance, the South African War (also known as the Anglo Boer War), First World War, Second World War and the Struggle for Liberation.  S'khumbuto is made up of eight different elements.  At the centre of S'khumbuto is a grassed Amphitheatre capable of seating 2,000 people.  At the bottom of the Amphitheatre is the Sanctuary and adjacent to that the Eternal Flame which allows visitors to remember the unknown heroes who lost their lives without their names being recorded in history.

The Amphitheatre is surrounded by the Wall of Names.  697 meters in length, the wall is being inscribed by the names of those people that played during the eight mentioned conflicts.  It has space for 150,000 names and up to now about 75,000 have already been inscribed.  All the names are also kept on a electronic database which is accessible through touch screen technology on site.  The people of South Africa is asked to forwards the names and details of people they know who was involved in any of the conflicts to be added to the database and Wall of Names.

The whole complex is surrounded and edged with the Reeds.  The nearly 200 ascending Reeds, the tallest measuring 32 meters, represents  the rebirth of the South African nation as well as embracing the future.  The Reeds means that Freedom Park is visible from all around most of South Africa's capital city.

Next to the shortest of the Reeds stands the President's Tree.  This African Olive Tree, representing peace, was planted by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2002 when the development of the site was still in its early stages.

As I was the first visitor in that morning, I had a guide all to myself.  Tour guide Gift Mutarini didn't grumble once because he had to show me around on my own and was kept very busy with me shooting off questions, telling my own stories and stopping for photos all the time. He also caught on very quickly when I needed him to keep on walking cause I needed a subject in a photograph.  Walking along this section of the path, the Voortrekker Monument is visible in the background.

Part 2 of my post on Freedom Park will follow tomorrow when I show you the sacred space of Isivivane.


  1. Thanks for sharing this special place in tribute to many of ZA. Joan and I didn't make it here.

  2. A worthy memorial. The eternal flame is in an appropriate spot.