Just outside of Johannesburg lies a gateway to the past. A look at humanity before modern civilization as we know it.
Maropeng, famously known as the Cradle of Humankind and one of South Africa's biggest tourist attractions in Gauteng. The exhibition centre serves as an entertainment and learning experience for all who visit. It is a journey through time that focuses on the earth's creation beyond humans. Take an underground boat ride or feast your eyes on ancient artefacts. The centre is home to all kinds of adventure.a
What would a journey through time be without a showcase of our own colourful history?
Maropeng's latest tourist attraction is an ode to South African icons, the Long March to Freedom Park is an exhibition that celebrates history in all its glory located opposite the Maropeng Visitor Centre’s main car park, the exhibition was initially placed in Tshwane - but can now be seen by a larger audience at Maropeng.
READ: #SAHeritage: Connect with your roots on the new Cradle of Human Culture Route in the Western Cape
There are currently over 100 statues at the memorial park with the end goal of displaying more than 400, each year a few more are added onto the list. So there is always a reason to go back, you might find out about an icon you did not know of or see one of your favourites honoured.
Some of the new additions include that of Martin Luther King. An Ahmed Kathrada sculpture has also joined the family of liberators following his death.
The exhibition was meant to be open until June 2019 in honour of 25 years of democracy but the park is still open to members of the public. No date has yet been set for the exhibition to be moved.
Take a stroll through this open-air art exhibition with your loved ones or your friends from abroad and teach them a thing or two about the South African history dating far back to the era of the San, as it showcases a succession of leaders from kings and chiefs to activists and sport stars.
Apart from showcasing some of our stalwarts the statues and their display are an attempt to redress South Africa's troubled past and to create a sense of unity that can be seen by tourists and visitors from all over the world.
I must say I felt like I was a part of a new and better South Africa while walking through this amazing display of art.
READ: Quick Guide to Madiba's Long Walk To Freedom around Mzansi
The larger than life display has around 40 sculptors and their assistants creating the sculptures from scratch. The process is educational for everyone involved in it, some emerging artists have been trained and mentored in the rare skill of bronze sculpting. All artists and sculptors are named and credited on the boards next to the statues along with the names of the icons displayed.
Although having a well-informed tour guide to tell you the story behind the story is great the boards opposite the sculptures do a good job at giving information about the extraordinary person displayed. If you are lucky like I was your tour guide might be the grandson of an honoured icon: South African author and anti-apartheid activist, Alan Paton. He is the author of the famous novel, Cry the Beloved Country which was later adapted into a film.
This journey of discovery propels you to work towards a better you and a South Africa that all these people dedicated their lives to transforming. Since the aim of the museum is to educate and to enlighten, I would say mission accomplished!
Find Your Escape by signing up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.