Resistance & Liberation Heritage Route

The Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route (RLHR) project is a national memory project aimed at commemorating, celebrating, educating, promoting, preserving, conserving and providing a durable testament of South African’s road to independence.

The project draws on heritage as testimony and depiction of South Africa’s journey from the first contact with colonists to the attainment of democracy through a series of connected multi-dimensional sites at the local, provincial, national and international level. This is done in a manner that promotes the values enshrined in the South African Constitution namely; a participatory process of identification and documentation of significant sites, formal protection and management of heritage resources and the interpretation and commemoration of the liberation struggle.

It uses an integrated approach to leverage the potential of resistance and liberation heritage to help demonstrate a shared past and shared future, and tap into the socio-economic potential of this heritage for the benefit of different communities, by harnessing multi-disciplinary strengths of diverse government and other sectors. 

World Heritage Agenda

World Heritage properties are places that are important and belong to everyone in the world, regardless of where they are located. They are an irreplaceable legacy that the global community has decided to protect for the future. South Africa has selected 10 properties they want on the World Heritage List, which means that those properties are recognised by the global community as having special significance that needs to be protected for future generations. The common feature of all properties inscribed on the World Heritage List is that they meet the requirements for Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

The National Heritage Council, in collaboration with diverse stakeholders, is spearheading the development of the first 10-part serial nomination dossier under the theme of Resistance and Liberation Heritage. The serial property is known as Human Rights, Liberation Struggle and Reconciliation: Nelson Mandela Legacy Sites. Following years of consultation and robust quality assurance, the completed dossier came before the SA World Heritage Convention Committee on 08 March 2019. A socio-economic study will be added to it and further national engagements on its contents will continue.

A later thematic workshop will explore the themes, types and periods that should make up the future nominations under the framework of the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route. Continued engagements with the African Liberation Heritage Programme will allow for even transnational serial properties where applicable. Whatever theme, type or period is proposed, it will have to meet requirements of Outstanding Universal Value, namely: Meet Criteria, meet conditions of Authenticity and Integrity; Enjoy sound Management and Protection. These are conveyed through a world heritage nomination that generally reflects the following. 

What the RLHR Unit does

We coordinate the management of the Liberation Heritage Route, demonstrate the price of freedom and mainstream the Heritage of Resistance and Liberation in all relevant areas of policy, programming, economy and infrastructure.

By participating in the African Liberation Heritage Programme and providing national input in the world heritage agenda, we contribute to the Africa we want and a better world that values the place of Africa’s road to freedom in the search for a better world; while supporting sustainable development goals.

By supporting the commemorative and repatriation events, we keep the living heritage of unsung martyrs, heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle alive to present and future generations.

Cumulatively, this work supports various National Development Plan outcomes including: Social Cohesion; Education; Mainstreaming of Integrated Planning; Sustainable Settlements; Conservation; International Relations; Increased Economic Participation and Infrastructure that Supports Economic Activity.

How South African citizens can become a part of Liberation Heritage

The RLHR seeks to promote the influence of the South African heritage globally. In order to do so, there is a need to involve citizens largely in all liberation heritage programmes and activities.

This will increase the degree of trust to citizens, education and build a network of strategic partnerships to strengthen and integrate heritage development by extending the influence of the National Heritage Council (NHC) and leveraging the resources through partnerships to the NHC. This has been done through supporting a number of commemorative and repatriation events and presentations on LHR made to different stakeholders.

Citizens can continue to propose sites and names of unsung heroes that have relevance to the struggle for freedom up to 27 April 1994. Citizens can also work with existing commemorative sites and programmes to ensure that these are well looked after, and that information is accurate and complete.

Under the guidance of the Integrated Development Plans and Local Economic Development Plans of different municipalities, opportunities for tourism, content production and other forms of socio-economic participation can be explored.

“It is an opportunity to write our history; to embed our liberation heritage in hearts and minds.” – Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, Director-General: Department of Arts and Culture

Golden Shield Heritage Awards

The National Heritage Council conceived the Golden Shield National Heritage Awards (GOSHA) in 2012 as a way to acknowledge active citizenship that protects and promotes the country’s heritage. As the name of the awards suggests, these are the people who act as the shields against the obliteration of our cultural and natural heritage. It is important to acknowledge, thank and take pride in people who continuously contribute selflessly to the preservation, interpretation and promotion of South Africa’s rich cultural heritage.

The awards were motivated by the rationale that heritage has a significant role to play in promoting social cohesion and community development. Awards such as this one therefore give acknowledgement and expose the depth of the South African Heritage which is unique and diverse. This project takes a national character and is intended to be all-inclusive.

We recognise the contribution of individuals, groups, or organisations/academic institutions that protect, preserve and promote the country’s heritage. The award recipients and the projects reflect best practice in promotion, preservation, conservation and/or interpretation of our heritage. Nominations are welcomed from all disciplines that have a direct bearing to how heritage is appreciated and preserved in the country. 

Heritage Education School Outreach Project – HESOP

This is an annual national schools project for grade 8 to 11 learners aimed at encouraging the youth to know their heritage better as well as exploring traditions of other cultures. Schools in the country challenge each other to represent their province at a week-long camp at a national heritage site where learners are taken through an educational exchange experience of a lifetime.

2019 Programme details:

2019 is the year in which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared as the “Year of Indigenous Languages”.

Through this programme, we will be aligning our activites including research and debates around the significance of preserving and promoting endangered intangible cultural heritage such as indigenous languages.

Workshops will be conducted between February and July; and the Provincial elimination will take place between July and August.

How schools can participate

The NHC submits a concept document to the National Department of Basic Education which is circulated to provincial and district offices. After this process, schools can then register to participate. Our focus is more on disadvantaged schools and the bias is on learners who are doing Social Sciences learning areas.

For enquiries, please contact the Heritage Unit: (012) 348 1663 | Email:

Ubuntu Project

The annual Ubuntu project upholds the legacy of our former statesman and global icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela by carrying and emulating the values of Ubuntu to the future generations of our country and making a difference in our communities.

Who can participate:

  • Registered NPO/NPCs involved in community social services


  • A valid registration certificate
  • A proposal (maximum 3-pages)
    • Name of the NPO or NPC, NPO number, focus area and contact details;
    • The NPOs focus area
    • A list of requirements of the NPO
    • Beneficiaries
    • The impact of the organisation in the community

Examples of requirements from NPOs should be the following:

school shoes/uniforms; food parcels; clothing; sanitary towels; etc.

N.B. The successful community organisation should be willing to sign a contract with the National Heritage Council to adhere to the entity’s requirements.

For enquiries, please contact Heritage Unit: (012) 348 1663| Email

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