Liliesleaf – Rivonia Museum and heritage site.
Rivonia Liliesleaf Farm, Johannesburg.
Headquarters of ANC military wing – Umkhonto we Sizwe. Home to Nelson Mandela while in hiding from Apartheid police.
Private – Professional – fully guided tours – 7 days a week.
Tour down the path to Liberation – Private – fully guided tours to one of the most significant historical sites in Johannesburg
To be able to structure a tour around your requirements and time available – Ekala needs to be supplied with clear timing and collection and drop off address – hotel name. If one of the points is the airport – we need full flight details. Once we have these it will be possible to quote/advise and structure a day or multi day package around your requirements/timing.
We can also add many other options in and around Johannesburg relevant to the struggle for freedom route or other local tours to create a full day/multi day historical tour.
Liliesleaf – with it’s unique heritage is a must to visit. Soweto and Liliesleaf and can be fitted in to an extended full day Johannesburg tour. However with the distance between the two area’s, best to allocate at least one and a half days – best two days.
Liliesleaf and Constitution Hill – Two of the most important historical sites in South Africa with relevance to the Freedom Struggle against Apartheid.
Then headquarters for the African National Congress (ANC), including its military operations, Umkhonto we Sizwe
In the early 1960’s, Liliesleaf Farm, situated in rural Rivonia, North of Johannesburg, provided the perfect “safe house” for members of the anti Apartheid liberation struggle. A group committed to bringing about sociopolitical transformation during apartheid years. In July 1963, the South African apartheid security police raided the Liliesleaf farm. Arresting members of the MK High Command (Umkhonto we Sizwe) and anti Apartheid liberation struggle members.
This capture of key anti Apartheid leaders on Liliesleaf farm and discovery of plans for the violent overthrow of South African Apartheid Government, operation “Mayibuye”, led to the “Rivonia Trial” that resulted in Nelson Mandela and his fellow liberation struggle members being sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Liliesleaf Rivonia farm: An insight into the personalities of the African National Congress (ANC) who opposed the oppressive apartheid regime and at the same time helped shape our democracy.
Liliesleaf was believed to be as a secure location (safe house) – necessitated by the Oppressive Apartheid System
“A tour down the path to Liberation”
Original facilities at Liliesleaf include:
Liliesleaf Main House
- Entrance Hall
- Dining room: Regular meeting place and “operations room”
- Verandah: Nelson Mandela practiced shooting, using an air rifle from the verandah
- Children’s bedroom
- Main bedroom: Arthur and Hazel Goldreich’s bedroom Children’s playroom
- Studio: Used by Arthur Goldreich as his studio. Police found a concealed wall safe, blew the lock off, expecting to find incriminating evidence. All that was found was a small amount of money
- Thatched cottage: Home to a number of key operatives playing a fundamental role in the liberation struggle.
- Kitchen courtyard: Residents and visitors generally entered the house from the courtyard.
- Coal shed: Used as a safe place for storing secret documents, these incriminating items were however found by the security police and used during the Rivonia Trial.
- Storeroom: Various documents and circulars were found in the storeroom, many of these in Nelson Mandela’s handwriting. Radio transmitter components were found and linked to radio freedom, however Walter Sisulu stated during the Rivonia trial that no broadcasts were ever made from Liliesleaf.
- Farm workers accommodation: All workers were arrested during the raid. Detained without trial, until the Rivonia took place and were coerced into giving evidence against the accused.
- Nelson Mandela’s room. Nelson Mandela lived at Liliesleaf for almost 2 years, under the pretext of being the houseboy and using the name of a former client, David Motsamayi. Wearing blue overalls, as was the uniform of a black male servant.
- Enith Kgopani’s room: Domestic worker for the Goldreich family, arrested with the other staff and also coerced into giving evidence against the accused.
- Garage: Unwittingly Arthur and Hazel Goldreich returned to the farm during the raid and were arrested near the garage.
- Outbuilding courtyard: Used as a communal area by all farm residents, screened from the main farm house by a thick hedge.
- Starting point is Learning Centre comprising of Resource and Liberation Centre with an introduction film in a state of the art auditorium. The Resource Centre library houses 3000 books and footage of over 500 hours of oral recollections and interviews.
- Liliesleaf provides an insight to events and ideology that defined the liberation struggle against the Nationalist government and the oppressing apartheid regime.
- Walk in the footsteps of some of South Africa’s most well known opponents of the apartheid regime. The key objective of the Liliesleaf Trust is to preserve the events of our historical and political past. Ensuring that these stories are circulated and known, and that the hardships endured by the men, women and children who fought for so long can be heard.
Liliesleaf farm History
With the National party coming to power in 1948, racial discrimination became institutionalized. Laws touching every aspect of life were introduced. Including job protection for whites, the immorality act, outlawing marriage between non-whites and whites.
With the erosion of black democratic rights in South Africa, the system of legislated racial discrimination intensified. By 1960, South Africa was seized by an overwhelmingly oppressive Apartheid regime.
The African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party had been officially banned, their leaders were resolute that they would not abandon the struggle, they would continue underground.
The South African Communist Party bought a 28 acre farm in 1961. At this time laws prohibited the sale of land to non whites. As such the farm was purchased by Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe with funds coming from the former Soviet Union. Located in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg, approximately 20km from the Johannesburg central business district, in what was at that time a quiet smallholding area. The South African Communist Party was to use this as its headquarters.
The Liliesleaf Rivonia farm also became the headquarters for the African National Congress (ANC), including its military operations, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Soon becoming the centre of ANC military operations and meeting place for liberation struggle leaders, committed to the over through of the oppressive apartheid regime, effecting sociopolitical transformation. Nelson Mandela lived at the Liliesleaf farm for almost 2 years, under the pretext of being the houseboy and using the name of a former client, David Motsamayi. Wearing blue overalls, as was the uniform of a black male servant.
Prominent struggle leaders sought shelter at Liliesleaf, holding key meetings, debating political and military policy and strategy. Prominent leaders Including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Raymond Mhaba, Rusty Bernstein, Bob Hepple, Harold Wolpe, Denis Goldberg and Ruth First. On the 11th July, the leaders had met for what was to be their last meeting at Liliesleaf. Concerns around the continued security of the site made it necessary to move the operations to a new site. The meeting was to discuss Operation Mayibuye. An extremely secretive plan, drawn up by Govan Mbeki and Joe Slovo, to overthrow the Apartheid Government.
The decision to move operations to another location was too late. The South African security Police had received a tip-off as to the operations at Liliesleaf, as well as the people involved. On the afternoon of the 11th, a dry-cleaning and flower van drove up the farm drive; this was a raid by the security police. All members of the ANC and Communist party present on the farm were arrested, Nelson Mandela was not present. The raid on Liliesleaf with the arrest of key leaders stalled the momentum of the liberation struggle. The arrests and subsequent Rivonia trial catapulted South Africa’s sociopolitical conditions into the international spotlight.
The Security police found sensitive documents, including documents outlining Operation Mayibuye during the raid. These incriminated Nelson Mandela and as a result he was charged with treason and brought to trial with the others. The Rivonia trial ran from October 1963 to June 1964 and culminated in life sentences for eight of the accused. The Rivonia trial came to represent the essence of the liberation struggle, focusing world attention on South Africa. The media surrounding the trial and the subsequent harsh sentencing highlighted the atrocities of the South African apartheid system onto the world stage.
African National Congress leaders, most notably Nelson Mandela, became international icons of struggle against South Africa’s oppressive regime – Apartheid.
Liliesleaf reopens as heritage site
49 years since the purchase of Liliesleaf by the South African Communist Party, the doors opened to the public as a museum. Commemorating the liberation struggle and the prominent political leaders who once congregated at Liliesleaf, for current and future generations. As a unique heritage site, preserved for future generations. 2001 saw the formation of the Liliesleaf Trust, with the key objective of restoring the buildings and at the same time preserving the authenticity of the site.
The Liliesleaf Legacy Project started with an archeological dig by archaeologists from the National museum, Bloemfontein. During this excavation a large amount of original building material was found. This allowed many of the original sections to be restored, where this was not able to be done, concrete was used to distinguish between original and rebuilt sections. Approximately 60% of the building infrastructures are comprised of original brickwork. During this restoration, all post 1963 brickwork was discarded.
The Liliesleaf Trust also focused on acquiring and tracing items, related to the site or the people that were associated with Liliesleaf. This included 500 hours of interview footage relating to the arrest of Nelson Mandela. The Trust recently played a central role in obtaining the original signed copy of the 1955 Freedom Charter. Parallels can be drawn between Robben Island and Liliesleaf, being amongst the most significant struggle landmarks in South Africa. Experience an actual account of events and circumstances leading up to the arrests and subsequent Rivonia trial, as well as insights into some of the revolutionary personalities who helped to shape South Africa’s democracy.
Liliesleaf is an astounding place, highlighting events that took place on the farm over 45 years ago, allowing the visitor to both see and feel with dismay what the oppressive regime apartheid meant to anyone who dared to defy the system. Original building infrastructure creates a true sense of working and living at Liliesleaf prior to the security police raid and the subsequent Rivonia trail. Tours of this unique heritage site – Liliesleaf, Rivonia. This site with its unique heritage is a must to visit – can be included with a Soweto tour to create a full day tour. The Johannesburg and Constitution Hill tours can also be fitted in to create a full day tour.
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