Walk in the foot­steps of lib­er­a­tion giants such as Nel­son Man­dela, Oliv­er Tam­bo and Helen Suz­man at Maropeng, where almost 100 strik­ing life-sized bronze stat­ues from the Long March to Free­dom exhi­bi­tion are on dis­play as South Africa cel­e­brates 25 years of democ­ra­cy in 2019.

Maropeng Ort And Adelaide

Ade­laide and Oliv­er Tam­bo, sculpt­ed by artists Tania Lee and Zel­da Stroud respec­tive­ly, are just two of the strug­gle stal­warts immor­talised in bronze. (Image: Maropeng)

In keep­ing with Maropeng’s mis­sion to pro­file the human jour­ney from our ear­li­est begin­nings, this Nation­al Her­itage Monument exhi­bi­tion cel­e­brates South Africa’s own com­plex jour­ney – and offers a chance to reflect on the real­i­ties of the present and the pos­si­bil­i­ties the future holds dur­ing this piv­otal elec­tion year.

The Long March to Free­dom exhi­bi­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly housed at the Foun­tains Val­ley resort in Tshwane, can now be seen at the Maropeng Vis­i­tor Cen­tre until the end of June 2019, thanks to an agree­ment with the Nation­al Her­itage Project Company. 

Said to be the largest exhi­bi­tion of rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al bronze sculp­tures any­where in the world, it has an esti­mat­ed val­ue of R100-million.

Says Maropeng man­ag­ing direc­tor Michael Worsnip: The arrival of the Long March to Free­dom exhi­bi­tion is an ode to the vet­er­ans and sup­port­ers of the strug­gle for free­dom and democ­ra­cy. The Cra­dle of Humankind is about the full span of the human jour­ney. This is our South African journey.”

Take a slow walk past the stat­ues as you fol­low South Africa’s four-cen­tu­ry odyssey to free­dom rep­re­sent­ed by a suc­ces­sion of icon­ic fig­ures. Meet and learn more about the kings and chiefs, the intel­lec­tu­als and activists, the lead­ers and sup­port­ers, and the many oth­er brave men and women who played a vital role in shap­ing the South Africa of today – all sculpt­ed in walk­ing motion, sym­bol­i­cal­ly strid­ing for­ward in uni­son towards democracy.

Accord­ing to the Nation­al Her­itage Mon­u­ment web­site, this exhi­bi­tion is an artis­tic attempt to redress the his­tor­i­cal imbal­ances in a coun­try that was torn apart by colo­nial­ism and racial seg­re­ga­tion, while offer­ing a site for learn­ing and self-reflection.

The com­mis­sion­ing of the first 100 life-sized stat­ues, in what will even­tu­al­ly be a pro­ces­sion of more than 400 bronzes, has been a mon­u­men­tal under­tak­ing, cre­at­ing employ­ment and skills trans­fer oppor­tu­ni­ties for a num­ber of estab­lished and up-and-com­ing South African sculptors.

This large-scale pub­lic art ini­tia­tive has seen some 40 pro­fes­sion­al sculp­tors and their assis­tants being tasked with pro­duc­ing the stat­ues, with a fur­ther five emerg­ing artists being trained and men­tored in the art of bronze sculp­ture. Eight local foundries have been involved in man­u­fac­tur­ing and installing the bronzes.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic have free access to this open-air art exhi­bi­tion, locat­ed oppo­site the Maropeng Vis­i­tor Centre’s main car park. Then you can expe­ri­ence the amaz­ing under­ground exhi­bi­tion tak­ing you back some four mil­lion years – or enjoy lunch or a cup of tea in one of our restaurants.

It tru­ly is a jour­ney of discovery!