Join the Long March to Freedom Art Walk

by | Jan 22, 2019 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg Day Trips, Museums and Buildings | 2 comments

UPDATE: The Long March to Freedom Art Walk is fully booked. Hopefully we can organize another one soon.

Last January I visited the Long March to Freedom National Heritage Monument in Fountains Valley, Pretoria. I was enchanted by this glorious phalanx of 100 bronze South African freedom fighters, all marching in the same direction.

But the Long March to Freedom was hidden in Fountains Valley. No one would ever come upon it without actively looking.

Solomon Mahlangu at the Long March to Freedom
Freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu at the old Long March to Freedom location, when I first visited last year.

A year later, the monument has moved to a much better location at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind. Maropeng is one of Gauteng province’s top tourist attractions, and the Long March to Freedom is prominently placed right at the entrance. Now thousands of people will get to see the monument every month, which is exactly the attention it deserves.

I took a trip out to Maropeng a couple of weeks ago. Not all the sculptures had been moved yet, but there were enough. The army of heroes marched across the open grassland, on this site where humankind was born, in their quest for freedom.

Bronze struggle heroes march toward Maropeng (the grass dome in the background). Maropeng is the official visitor center for the Cradle of Humankind.
Madiba statue at Long March to Freedom in Maropeng
Nelson Mandela leads the charge in his new spot outside Maropeng.
Solomon Mahlangu looking even more dramatic under the highveld sky.
Chief David Stuurman, whose incredible story I just read on the Long March to Freedom website. (The website is fantastic, by the way.) Chief Stuurman escaped from Robben Island not once, but twice.
Helen Suzman, founder of the Progressive Party (now the Democratic Alliance). Suzman served in Parliament during the apartheid era and was often the only woman and the only voice of dissent.
Walter and Albertina Sisulu, legends of the anti-apartheid struggle. Thanks, little bird, for landing on Mr. Sisulu’s fist at exactly the right moment.
It was great to see people coming out of Maropeng and interacting with the sculptures.

The Long March to Freedom Art Walk

Maropeng is about an hour north of central Joburg and I encourage everyone to get out there ASAP to see the Long March to Freedom. (Right now the sculptures are scheduled to stay there for six months but hopefully that period will be extended.) In the meantime, I’m organizing a little Long March to Freedom art walk in Joburg.

There are more than 40 sculptors involved in the Long March to Freedom project. One of them, Nkhensani Rihlampfu, is a friend of mine and has his studio at No. One Eloff Street in downtown Jozi.

Nkhensani Rihlamphu studio in Joziburg Lane
Nkhensani in his studio a couple of years ago, standing next to a headless Robert Sobukwe. You can see the completed Robert Sobukwe in my previous post about the Long March to Freedom.

On Friday, 8 February, I’m organizing a visit to Nkhensani’s studio at 10:00 a.m. Nkhensani will talk a bit about his art and his participation in the Long March to Freedom project. Then we’ll take a five-minute walk to the Workhorse Bronze Foundry, where many of the Long March to Freedom sculptures were cast.

I visited the Foundry briefly a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful place to take photos and learn about the bronze casting process.

Inside the Workhorse Bronze Foundry.

(Sorry this walk has to be on a weekday — I know it’s not convenient for the nine-to-fivers among you. But the Foundry is closed on weekends.)

The art walk will be limited to 15 participants. To sign up, please send a message through my Contact Me page. (No social media comments or direct messages, please.) I’ll take the first 15 responders.

Also, there will be a contest for the best Instagram photo of the day and the winner gets an Instax mini 9 camera.

Heather with Instax camera
A pretty blue camera! Yay! (Photo by Neil Jansson)

Sign up now for the walk and get out to Maropeng as soon as you can.

I wrote this post in partnership with Maropeng. Opinions expressed are mine.


  1. autumnashbough

    That little bird on Mr. Sisulu’s hand was just the kind of symbolism I needed this morning (on the apparently interminable crawl toward teaching my fellow white Americans not to be racist jerks).

    • 2summers

      Hahahaaaaa. Glad to be of service. I wish you could come to see the whole exhibit – it’s impossible to look at it and not feel more hopeful about humanity, at least for an hour or two.



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