Africa / See

Play – Freedom Park

So, back to my epic weekend in South Africa (it’s hard to keep track of all the epic weekends I have there!)

 — 01 Apr 2012 —

The other attraction I went to was Freedom Park.

Freedom Park is so beautiful. It is architecturally and aesthetically pleasing and the park appealed to the designer in me. The park has been developed in sections over the years (and still developing); however this has not affected the way each section blends together through the use of architectural shapes, natural materials and cultural symbolism. It is situated near Pretoria central and opposite the University of South Africa, which is amazing because there is not a lot of noise pollution that filters into the park so one can enjoy the tranquility and peace.

I was lucky enough to get a private guided tour (the manager thought I would get lost walking the place by myself – did he somehow know about my track record that morning?) by two of the park rangers and it was nice to hear their take on the development of the park and what the park means to them, as black people.

S’khumbuto, the main memorial that stands as a testimony to the eight conflicts that have shaped South Africa into the country it is today. S’khumbuto is a place for remembrance, of those who died fighting for what they believed in, and celebration, for all that was achieved through the conflicts.

The Sanctuary.

The Eternal Flame. Lit for the unknown and unsung heroes and heroines who lost their lives without their names being recorded in history.

The Amphitheatre.

Reeds sculptures. They signify the rebirth of the South African nation as well as a nation embracing the future. I don’t get the resemblance…

Gallery of Leaders.

Wall of names – 697m long structure is inscribed with the names of those who played a significant part in South Africa’s history. The wall can accommodate approximately 150,000 names and to date, there are only 75,000 names inscribed. That’s not to say only 75,000 were involved in the conflicts. There are many names which have not been added because they were never identified. The park allows family members to add the names of those who died.

Moshate – The President’s suite.

Conceptual sketch

President’s Tree. An African Olive tree was planted by the former president Thabo Mbeki in Jun 2002. The olive tree symbolises peace.

Isivivane, built as a sacred resting place for those who played a part in the freedom and liberation of South Africa. It is a place for everyone to contemplate a united humanity despite our differences in race and culture.

Traditionally every household had its own spiritual space, and that is the concept on which Isivivane was constructed. It is South Africa’s national spiritual space. The concept is taken so seriously that you are asked to remove your footwear when entering the space, as a sign of respect.

The Lesaka is the symbolic resting place for the spirits of those who played a part in the struggles for humanity and freedom in South Africa. It was constructed using soil from areas where conflicts occurred and boulders from a place of importance from each of the nine South African provinces. There are also two boulders representing the national government and the international community.

The Lesaka.

The Mveledzo (or in English, a spiral path) links all the elements in the park together. It was designed for visitors to enjoy a contemplative journey in the serenity of the natural landscape.

This is definitely not only a tourist attraction. It is a heritage destination. My walk was informative and I learnt a lot from the rangers. They are proud of how South Africa has turned out as they (and their future generations) can live the life as an equal (to the white people). They remember the tales from their fathers and father’s father but do not hold grudges against all that had happened in the past.

I highly recommend taking a guided tour to learn more than the booklet will ever teach you or if peace and quiet is what you’re after, there are many spaces that you can enjoy by yourself with or without a picnic basket. The views are stunning from every part of the park.

Freedom Park
Salvokop, Pretoria
Gauteng Province, South Africa
w: http://freedompark.co.za
t: +27 (0)12 336 4000

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