Africa is a continent of many countries, of much diversity and difference. But there is also much unifying its people. These cultures – both their variations and their similarities – are celebrated at Freedom Park.
Freedom Park is primarily a cultural centre. The very morphology of the park, from its architectural style to the sacred symbols scattered across its grounds, has meaning in the South African cultural context, mirroring how history is told and preserved in Africa.
This history is unpacked, and this culture is explored, in the many elements that make up the park.
//hapo: an odyssey spanning human history
At the //hapo interactive museum, visitors are taken on a cultural and historical odyssey from the Earth's infancy, through the early days of humanity and right up to the present day. The human journey in Southern Africa is told through ancient artefacts and more modern items, and even music genres such as kwaito.
South Africa's many languages
Recognising that language is central to the preservation and practice of culture – it underscores how we understand and negotiate the world – South Africa has 11 official languages. Many of them are echoed in the evocative memorial and installation names at Freedom Park.
S'khumbuto, the central memorial, is a siSwati word signifying a place of remembrance and one to invoke the ancestors' assistance. Mveledzo is the Tshivenda name given to the spiral path that wends between S'khumbuto and Isivivane, itself named to bring to mind the Zulu and Xhosa practice of paying homage to the Earth for good luck.
Uitspanplek is the Afrikaans translation of "a place to relax", and the //hapo museum pays tribute to the Khoi people, with the name evoking the Khoi phrase meaning "dream".
African culture observed and preserved
Water plays a central role in cultures across the globe, and the reverence Africans have for water is evident at Freedom Park. The park has numerous water features signifying the element's importance in healing and cleansing ceremonies.
Further African practices are preserved and showcased in the Isivivane installation, which encompasses Lesaka, a spiritual resting place, and Lekgotla, a traditional meeting area, built around the bole of an uMlahlankosi tree.
The park is a dynamic monument paying tribute to South Africa's cultures and creeds, and will continue to keep pace with developments within the country, providing a reflective space for all South Africans.