Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has unveiled 55 statues of pre-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle heroes, which make up the R1-billion National Heritage Monument (NHM) in Groenkloof.
Some icons featured during the unveiling include Nelson Mandela, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, Yusuf Dadoo, Charlotte Maxeke, and Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje.
According to Mthethwa, the monument, which will ultimately feature over 500 bronze statues, carries a value of over R1 billion – and will “become a major tourist attraction, as well as a massive educational centre that any person anywhere in the world would go to when they want to know about South African history”.
The project was first conceptualised in 2010 by Dali Tambo, the CEO of the National Heritage Project Company.
The projected cost of the project initially amounted to between R700 million and R800 million.
This target included the monument itself, the visitors’ centre, and the roads and infrastructure complementing the monument.
According to Tambo, however, the project would effectively pay for itself – with rosy targets of the monument contributing R1 billion to GDP annually, and over R90 million in terms of tax revenues and annuities to the government.
Once the project is completed, the monument will be known as “The Long Walk to Freedom”.
“It will tell the story that many men and women paid a supreme sacrifice to bring freedom in our land. It will tell the story that our freedom was not free,” said Gauteng Premier David Makhura at the unveiling.