Gauteng Tourist AttractionsKliptown Open Air Museum
Where? Walter Sisulu Square, Corner of Klipspruit Valley Road and Union Road, Kliptown, Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa
How? Call +27 (0)11 945-2200
Standing in Freedom Square in Soweto, the Kliptown Open Air Museum, dedicated to Walter Sisulu, tells the story of the drafting of the Freedom Charter. And it does so via photographs, art, song, news clipping and narration. It is a thoroughly visual journey made by visitors to the museum, one that emphasises the freedom South Africa fought so hard to achieve.
It is not an original idea, using multi-media to paint a story, neither is the concept of an open air museum - the first was established in Scandinavia at the end of the nineteenth century - but in this particular case, the story that it tells – the attainment of freedom - gains an added dimension, unfettered by the walls of a building.
Displays include artefacts from the people who witnessed the signing of the charter, as well as songs sung at the meeting in Kliptown, and the testimonies narrated by those who were there. This combination of sound and art is particularly impactful.
Photographs and newspaper clippings, documents, handmade wire sculptures of specific people who helped draft the charter – such as Walter Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi, Dorothy Nyembe and Professor ZK Matthews, who originally proposed the idea of the Freedom Charter - collectively paint a picture.
Kliptown back in those days was something of a buffer between Soweto and Johannesburg, a multi-racial, freehold area, and thus chosen for the event, which happened despite a police blockade. People came from miles away to see the charter signed. The museum is not only there to demonstrate the magnitude of the charter, but also to serve as a reminder that it serves as the basis for democracy and needs to be upheld.