The Liberation Heritage Route


July being the month we celebrate the man himself, Nelson Mandela, and the legacy he left with us, it seems only right that we review the wonderful Liberation Route earmarked in Mpumalanga.

Nelson Mandela fought for freedom. He fought for a South Africa we could all call our own, our home, and beloved land. The Liberation Heritage Route draws attention to the key freedom fighters who fought for justice and freedom from oppression alongside Nelson Mandela, as well as the destinations that featured prominently during the struggle for liberation.

When this route was launched in 2016, the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, explained the rationale behind the Liberation Heritage Route “ is intended to preserve our country’s struggle history for future generations. We must therefore continue to celebrate the selfless contribution made by the freedom fighters. It is important to note that the towns highlighted are not the only ones within the province that were home to various freedom fighters and involved in the grassroots liberation struggle. A number of towns have been identified that may be added to the route in the future and they include Evander, Leandra and Standerton. Further research may identify more towns that could be added to the route”.

Identified in the Heritage Liberation Route are 6 towns that were involved in the anti-apartheid struggle, and assisted in the result of a peaceful transition to democracy. Those towns are:
  • Bethal
  • Daggakraal
  • Ermelo
  • Saul Mkhizeville (formerly Driefontein)
  • Secunda
  • Volksrust

Over the last 6 years since the route was launched, the Mpumalanga Tourism department has worked to make these towns destinations that will be attractive to both local and international tourists alike. The aim is not only to pay tribute to the history of democratic South Africa and the struggles for freedom, but also to support the local communities and continue to encourage a budding tourism industry in Mpumalanga.


Bethal’s cultural precinct and Nomoya Masilela Museum pay homage to many of South Africa’s prominent liberation struggle heroes, such as Richard 'Gert' Sibande, Nokuthula Simelane, Ruth First and Henry ‘Mr Drum’ Nxumalo.


The humble settlement of Daggakraal that overlooks the stretching landscapes of the highveld, is home to the Oxford-educated Dr Pixley Isaka Ka Seme, who established the precursor to the African National Congress (ANC).


Ermelo played a pivotal role in South Africa’s liberation struggle as it was a stop over for the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe members who were travelling to Swaziland and Mozambique, and it also experienced forced removals during the 1960s.


Set in the surrounds of pine forests and one of South Africa’s largest dams is Saul Mkhizeville, which played an important role in South Africa’s liberation struggle.


Most South Africans only know Secunda as an industrial and commercial centre, but the town has a liberation history that includes some of the country’s bravest freedom fighters, who died for democracy and racial equality.


It was in Volksrust that human rights activist Mahatma Gandhi and his wife, Kasturba, were arrested on numerous occasions, alongside other Indian protestors, for peacefully marching against the Black Act and Immigration Law. Gandhi’s Satyagraha Campaign resulted in the Gandhi-Smuts agreement of 1914 and better living conditions for Indians.

If you’d like to explore this region of the Heritage Liberation Route and learn more about how each town and its people played a pivotal role in the fight for South Africa’s democracy, why not take a trip!

Visit the Liberation Heritage Route page and read up on the route itself, as well as view a map of the full route that you can travel.

Don’t forget to tag us in your social media photos so we can experience your journey as you #DiscoverMpumalanga!

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