The recently opened Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Freedom Square in Mamelodi Township outside Pretoria is a major boost for township tourism in Gauteng City Region. The precinct which includes memorial walk path-ways, a photographic gallery documenting all the past conflicts in the township, an amphitheatre and a giant statue of Solomon Mahlangu in full military combat uniform was renovated at a cost of R49 million and its now open to the public.
The 16 000m2 precinct marks the start of phase one of the multimillion-rand project that was erected to recognize heroes and heroines of the struggle in the township by retelling their stories. Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, an Umkhonto-we Sizwe (MK) soldier who hailed from this township was executed by the apartheid government in December 1970 despite world-wide appeals for leniency. Facing the gallows he was asked to say his last words and he defiantly said these famous words, “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.” Since then Mahlangu’s resilience and defiance facing death propelled the youth of this country to intensify the fight against the unjust apartheid system which resulted in the 1994 democratic dispensation.
The Solomon Mahlangu Freedom Square adds to an impressive list of key struggle sites in this township which includes the house of the famous struggle hero Dr Ribeiro, Solomon Mahlangu’s family house which has now been declared a national heritage site and the burial site of former ANC President Sefako Mapogo Makgatho. Work is underway now to link Mahlangu’s house, the precinct and the Pretoria Central Prison (now Kgosi Mampuru Prison), where Kalushi was hanged, into a formal route retracing his long struggle journey. Tour operators, visitors and tourists in general will now have unhindered access to these sites. “This will go a long way in uplifting township tourism experiences into the main tourism offerings,” said Dawn Robertson, CEO of Gauteng Tourism Authority.
The memorial is open daily from 09h00 till 17h00.