Celebrate love at Maropeng’s Long March to Freedom exhibition

Posted on February 13, 2019 — Pakamani Nombila

If you’re still undecided about what to do for Valentine’s Day this year, why not consider a romantic picnic at Maropeng’s Long March to Free­dom exhibition?

The exhi­bi­tion boasts almost 100 life-sized bronze stat­ues of South African struggle heroes, which are currently on dis­play at the Maropeng Visitor Centre until the end of June 2019. This open-air art exhibition is free of charge to members of the public, making it a great way to celebrate love with your partner or spouse.

Visitors can look forward to an interactive experience where they will learn more about the iconic figures who helped shape South Africa, as well as the strong love and bond some of these iconic figures shared with their respective spouses during the long march to democracy.

Take a slow walk with your partner through the exhibition and be inspired by a place of learning, a place of growth and a place of self-reflection as you celebrate South African struggle heroes and heroines. Be motivated by the endearing love stories of struggle icons who, despite the challenges they faced, built homes, raised children, and loved and supported one another. Celebrate love that extended beyond borders.

Here are some formidable couples you can draw inspiration from at the exhibition:

Oliver and Adelaide Tambo

The couple met while Adelaide was a nurse at the now Chris Hani Barag­wanath Hospital in Soweto, and Oliver a young up-and-coming African National Congress (ANC) politi­cian and a part­ner with Nelson Mandela in the country’s first black law prac­tice. They married on 22 December 1956 while Oliver was on bail for the 1956 Treason Trial.

At the exhibition you will learn about this couple’s journey together, which spanned more than 30 years across the world. They were asked by the president of the ANC at the time, Albert Luthuli, to go into vol­un­tary exile in Lon­don. Here they mobilised support and opinion against the apartheid state. Adelaide worked two jobs to keep the family afloat while Oliver focused on gaining international support for the struggle. Oliver himself would later become deputy president and president of the ANC.

Struggle icons Oliver and Adelaide Tambo are among the bronze statues at the open-air exhibition.

Struggle icons Oliver and Adelaide Tambo are among the bronze statues at the open-air exhibition. (Image: Maropeng)

Walter and Albertina Sisulu

Both Wal­ter and Albertina Sisu­lu were born and raised in rural villages in the Eastern Cape. The couple met in 1941 and got married in 1944 while living in Soweto, where their home was always full of prominent political figures.

Throughout their marriage, they were at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid. In 1947 Walter joined the ANC on a full-time basis, while Albertina took over the responsibility of being the breadwinner and supporting their family through her nursing career. The two went from humble begin­nings, overcoming many challenges in their marriage to become two of South Africa’s most respect­ed and loved fig­ures.

Joe Slovo and Ruth First

Ruth First and Joe Slovo married in 1949. Slovo was a lawyer and labour organiser, while Ruth was a journalist and editor of The Guardian newspaper based in Johannesburg. Throughout the 1950s, the couple’s home in Randburg was an important gathering space for multiracial political parties.

In 1956 they were both arrested and charged with high treason due to their political activities against the apartheid state. They weathered many challenges in their marriage, including detentions and exile.

There are many other inspiring and endearing stories of love, hope and sacrifice at the Long March to Freedom exhibition. It is perfect for couples and a great way to reflect on our past as a country and the wonderful achievements humanity is capable of when united in a common goal.

The Tumu­lus restau­rant at Maropeng has planned a special Valentine’s Day lunch for couples, at R195 per person, if you are in the area. Alternatively, if you wish to extend your stay, book into the Maropeng Bou­tique Hotel for the night at a special price of R1 650 per couple, which includes breakfast, and a roman­tic turn-down service com­pris­ing rose petals, deli­cious choco­lates and Kro­ne sparkling wine. If you're adding an intimate dinner choose between the Valentine’s offering or regular menu.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)14 577 9016 or email Bubi Mogoane at bubim@maropeng.co.za.

Snap a selfie with struggle icons such as Nelson Mandela and many others at Maropeng.

Snap a selfie with struggle icons such as Nelson Mandela and many others at Maropeng. (Image: Maropeng )