Liliesleaf, Johannesburg

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Situated in residential Rivonia, the insightful and interactive museum experience Liliesleaf honours South Africa’s remarkable heritage and the impressive trajectory of South Africa’s socio-political past. Once the headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC and the Congress Alliance, Liliesleaf holds a position of esteem among struggle landmarks in South Africa.

Liliesleaf will be remembering and commemorating the 50th anniversaries of the Raid on Liliesleaf on 11 July 1963; Liliesleaf was the ‘nerve centre’ of liberation activity and the raid dealt a severe hammer below to the struggle resulting in the arrest of 18 people including key leaders of the liberation movement. The arrests and evidence seized from Liliesleaf lead to the Rivonia Trial which started on the 26th November 1963, and subsequent sentences of life imprisonment for 8 of the 10 accused - Nelson Mandela and seven other senior leaders of the ANC, South African Communist Party, Congress Alliance and MK. Rusty Bernstein and James Kantor were however acquitted; and the Escape from Marshall Square on 11 August 1963.

The significance of acknowledging and commemorating these events is to not only ensure that our history, memory and legacy of our liberation struggle is preserved and maintained but also collectively embraced, honoured and cherished. For the struggle today is the struggle against the memory against forgetting, the struggle to ensure that as a nation we entrench the ideals, beliefs and principles upon which our liberation struggle was predicated on.

Thus the importance of sites like Liliesleaf as Pierre Nora emphasizes in Between Memory and History is that, “sites of memory allow history a kind of reawakening. These sites bring history to life”. Liliesleaf preserves the memories of our past and in so doing preserves these memories in the minds and consciousness of all.

It is imperative and essential that we reaffirm our liberation heritage as an integral part of our country’s collective memory and cultural history. Equally it is important that we continue to celebrate and draw lessons from the lives of those who shaped our country’s history and contributed to the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.

Thus sites like Liliesleaf not only ensure that a period in South Africa’s recent history is preserved for current and future generations, but also ensures that society does not forget the struggle, sacrifices, values, ideals and principles that underpinned the liberation struggle.

Liliesleaf commemorates a strategic and seminal point in South Africa’s history and represents a beacon on the national and international landscape of human memory. It formed a crucible of the liberation movement and became a distinctive place of memory for definitive leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, and those associated with Liliesleaf and the liberation movement and struggle. The events and activities that took place there pushed the door ajar and propelled the liberation struggle down a new path.

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    07 George Avenue.
    2128 Johannesburg


    +27 11 803 7882/3/4

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