Two copies of Freedom Charter declared heritage objects
TMG Digital | 2017-06-02 11:08:21.0
Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of the Liliesleaf Trust, with the original copy of The Freedom Charter, which is on display at Liliesleaf Centre.
Image by: Simphiwe Nkwali
The Department of Arts and Culture on Friday gazetted the declaration of two signed and authenticated copies of the Freedom Charter as specifically Declared Heritage Objects.
This is under the National Heritage Resources Act 25/1999.
One of the copies is at the National Archives while the other is at Liliesleaf farm‚ the base from which some MK fighters used during the anti-apartheid struggle.
In 2010‚ the Heritage Objects Unit stopped the export of one of these copies of the Freedom Charter when it was offered on auction by Bonhams in the UK.
The department‚ in its announcement last year of the intention of the declaration‚ said the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) had identified these as the two known signed and authenticated copies of the Freedom Charter signed by the presidents of the five participating organizations involved in the 1955 Congress of the People.
The identification by the agency came after it conducted research into the existence of an original draft‚ “as having qualities so exceptional that they are of special national significance and warrant the most stringent heritage protection”.
The department explained: “It is accepted that there are many copies of the Freedom Charter including handwritten drafts and dated but unsigned copies.
The declaration of the two signed copies is the beginning of a serial declaration which will include pre- and post- adoption documents such as documents from the 1955 Congress of People‚ the One Million Signature Campaign as well as the 25th Anniversary and adoptions by COSAS and UDF.
The significance of the Freedom Charter lies in the democratic process taken to document the demands and desires that the majority South Africans wanted for a free South Africa.
It formed the basis of the Struggle going forward as well as the Constitution of South Africa. These signed copies represent the endorsement of the Freedom Charter by the African National Congress‚ South African Indian Congress‚ South African Coloured People’s Organisation‚ South African Congress of Democrats‚ and the South African Congress of Trade Unions.”
After declaration‚ SAHRA would have to issue a permit for any alterations or restoration of the two copies‚ as well as their export.