A King is now among revolutionary royalty in the Long March to Freedom exhibition

Posted on March 20, 2019 — Tumelo Buthelezi

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young delivers the keynote address.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young delivers the keynote address. (Image: Cradle of Humankind)

Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr “had a dream” in the early 1960s, and now modern-day South Africans are living it. He saw a possible future where people “would not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”, and dedicated his life to making it a reality. To honour this great icon’s legacy, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site has brought his spirit back to the Motherland.

At a ceremony held on 19 March 2019 at Maropeng, the official visitor centre to the Cradle of Humankind, a bronze, life-like statue of King was unveiled to the public as part of The Long March to Freedom exhibition. The unveiling was attended by members of the media, esteemed South African officials and a United States delegation, including veteran diplomat and former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew J Young.

The addition of King’s statue is part of the Cradle’s vision to showcase the role of various freedom fighters from across the globe and their contribution to South Africa’s struggle for liberation. “The Long March to Freedom exhibition is only a quarter complete; we want to have 400 statues in the exhibition in the future,” said renowned media personality and National Heritage Project Company CEO Dali Tambo, the driving force behind the exhibition.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew J Young unveils the Martin Luther King Jnr statue recently added to the <em>Long March to Freedom</em> exhibition.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Andrew J Young unveils the Martin Luther King Jnr statue recently added to the Long March to Freedom exhibition. (Image: Cradle of Humankind)

Following a vote of thanks by the Executive Mayor of the Mogale City Local Municipality, Patrick Naga Lipudi, attendees joined Young for the unveiling of the Dr Martin Luther King Jnr statue.

“This is also our way of acknowledging the role and contribution of the US in the South African tourism industry,” said Pumla Ncapayi, the head of department of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, speaking about the significance of this recent entry to the exhibition.

All-round cheers and applause welcomed King’s sculpture, which joined a pantheon of phenomenal icons including Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Miriam Makeba, whose legacies have been immortalised in the exhibition.

Members of the public can walk among these heroes when visiting Maropeng, the Cradle of Humankind's official visitor centre.

Address: Maropeng Visitor Centre, R400, Mogale, 1911
Visiting hours: 9am to 5pm every day
Guided tours: 9am to 5pm every day