Statue of AB Xuma, SA’s first black medical doctor. Picture: JO BUITENDACH
Statue of AB Xuma, SA’s first black medical doctor. Picture: JO BUITENDACH

How do you honour, in one space, more than four centuries of men and women who fought colonialism, segregation and apartheid?

See for yourself at the "Long March To Freedom", a project based in Fountains Valley recreation resort in Pretoria. This sculpture park is home to 100 life-size bronze statues (there will eventually be 400 artworks), most sculpted mid-step, walking toward a symbolic democracy.

Produced by a host of well-known sculptors, the procession starts in the 1600s with Autshumato, the first political prisoner sent to Robben Island for defying a European power. From there, meander through SA’s past, meeting legendary chiefs, missionaries, writers, sportsmen, revolutionaries and trade unionists. Finally, you’ll reach Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, at the dawn of SA’s democracy.

It’s hard to pick a standout statue. But look out for AB Xuma, who was the first black medical doctor in SA, ANC founder Sol Plaatje, riding his bicycle through the crowd, typewriter strapped to his back, ready to record community grievances arising from the implementation of the 1913 Land Act. Or his friend, British-born Harriette Colenso, a strong opponent of colonialism in Natal. Plaatje dedicated his book Native Life in South Africa to her.

The "march" of statues tells countless tales of brave individuals, friendships forged across racial lines and moments of kindness.

The site is open to the public daily, and is staffed by some seriously passionate young guides. They hand out umbrellas to shade you from the glaring sun, and are on hand to tell you snippets of info about their favourite statues.

Entrance fees range from R13 to R33 and are well worth it. Pack a picnic and spend the day hanging out with local heroes.

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