60 years – the relevance of the Freedom Charter in the 21st Century

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the South African Freedom Charter. This milestone will be celebrated at a public dialogue that is hosted by the National Heritage Council (NHC) and Ditsong Museums of South Africa on 25 June 2015 in Pretoria. The panel of speakers will be:

  • Prof Muxe Nkondo, Member of the Heritage Panel of Experts and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Venda
  • Prof Mongane Wally Serote, Heritage Practitioner and former CEO of the Freedom Park, and
  • Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, the Chief Executive of the NHC


When many activists of our liberation struggle gathered in Kliptown, Soweto on the 26th of June 1955, they recorded their aspirations as an alternative vision to the repressive policies of the apartheid state for our new nation into what is today a critical piece of heritage – the Freedom Charter. It is the same, originally signed, historical document that was nearly auctioned in the United Kingdom in May 2010. An unknown bidder bought it and fortunately handed it over to the South African government. This was a true test of how much the nation values not only the historicity of the document but also the values and principles that it articulates. The freedom charter was produced by black opposition movements under the name “Congress of the People”, and was a direct result of the harsh injustices to oppress Africans of colour in South Africa.

The adoption of the Freedom Charter marks a significant milestone in the liberation struggle for a united and democratic South Africa. It became a rallying point for the masses of South Africa to focus on a common vision and purpose for the struggle. The Adoption of the Freedom Charter took place on the 26th June 1955 and it was a culmination of a number of rallies, big and small; door to door, shop floor campaigns and other consultation strategies at what was coded as the Congress of the People which was held on the 25th and 26th June where more than 2800 delegates were in attendance.

The 27th of April 1994 ushered in a new era in South Africa. It was of the coming into power of a democratic dispensation and an inclusive government. One of the core mandates of the democratic government was to implement some of the ideals of the South African People as outlined in the Freedom Charter. The National Heritage Council of South Africa, formed through an Act of Parliament, is mandated to promote, protect, preserve and transform the heritage landscape of South Africa. Its primary focus at this point is to produce knowledge that will empower the citizens never to commit the same mistakes as committed in the past, while creating a better future for all as espoused in the Freedom Charter.

The commemoration and celebration of different milestones that led to the liberation of South Africa is a way to ensure that South Africans are informed the nations previous circumstances; reminding the nation of the dark and horrific past that must never be experienced again and to build a nation united in its diversity.

In line with this objective, the NHC will commemorate the 60th Anniversary since the adoption of the Freedom Charter in collaboration with Ditsong Museums of South Africa.

The National Heritage Council together with Ditsong Museums of South Africa will co-host this significant milestone by celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the freedom charter on the 25th June 2015, with distinguished delegates and the public by participating in a dialogue to commemorate the Adoption of the Freedom charter.

By commemorating this day the NHC and Ditsong Museums of South Africa aim to educate the public about the impact made by the adoption of the Freedom Charter formed on solid tenets of democracy.


Details of the event

Date: Thursday, 25 June 2015

Venue: Ditsong National Cultural History Museum, 432 Visagie Street, Pretoria

Starting time: 10h00 – 13h00

If you wish to be part of the dialogues you may reserve your seat by sending an email to Ms Matanato Ngwaila on m.ngwaila@nhc.org.za or call 012 348 1663.


Economics Professor and retired Member of Parliament Ben Turok says the Freedom Charter has shaped our attitude and conscience.

Speaking on AM Live on 26 June 2014, Turok says some of the provisions of the charter have been fulfilled. He says the country is failing to live up to the ethical clauses of its ideals.

Listen to the full interview



Previous Solomon Mahlangu Memorial Lecture keynote Address by Adv S Mancotywa

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