Marking history along the Heritage Trail

For those of you who have done the traditional bus tour, there is good news. The Johannesburg Tourism Company is in the process of launching South Africa’s first heritage route, which traces our path to democracy. Called the Heritage Trail, it gives South Africans the opportunity to commemorate June 16 and other historical events by walking along the paths of past generations. It encourages people not only to see and read about South African history, but to personally engage with it. History then becomes more than a story, it becomes real. As you walk in the steps of students who protested in 1976, you are given the opportunity to learn what it means to march for freedom.

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The Hector Pieterson Memorial outside the museum

Included in Johannesburg’s heritage is the significant role of the struggle history of the country. The fact that Gauteng was, and still is, home to many South Africans contributes to the interest people have in visiting, touring and exploring the city.

When completed, the Heritage Trail will include several different routes such as the June 16 Trail, Naledi Route, Morris Isaacson Route and the Mofolo Bridge.

The Heritage Trail is spearheaded by the City of Joburg in collaboration with the Johannesburg Tourism Company, the Johannesburg Roads Agency , Johannesburg Development Agency, Pikitup, City Power, City Parks and the Gauteng provincial transportation and infrastructure departments.

The trail is currently mapped by red bricks. It begins at Naledi High School, where one group of students began their march in 1976, proceeds to Thomas Mofolo High School, while also including other schools in the vicinity (Naledi, Morris Isaacson, Orlando West, Musa High and Madibane). The trail leads to the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West.

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The Hector Pieterson Museum

The trail maps the routes along which the schoolchildren of June 16 marched from their various schools while they sang Nkosi Sikele’i Africa. At Phefeni Junior Secondary, they encountered police and a shooting ensued, leaving a number of schoolchildren dead. Among the fallen were two whose names have become synonymous with the day – Hector Pieterson and Hastings Ndlovu.