A landmark of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, the northern Johannesburg Liliesleaf Farm has been shutdown indefinitely after years of underfunding made worse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between 1961 and 1963, the northern Johannesburg Liliesleaf Farm served as the secret headquarters of the banned African National Congress (ANC), which led the fight against white-minority rule.
In 1963, Police had raided the farm after receiving a tip-off and arrested over a dozen core ANC activists who were tried and prosecuted alongside their leader Nelson Mandela who was already behind bars at the time.
After the arrests, Mandela and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia trial. They were released around three decades later, when apartheid fell and Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president.
Liliesleaf was restored around a decade after apartheid officially ended in 1991 and turned into a museum that opened in 2008 but it has since struggled to secure funding from both the government and private donors, forcing it to shut this week.
The founder and CEO of the Liliesleaf Trust, Nicholas Wolpe deplored the lack of support for arts and culture in South Africa stating Liliesleaf has been forced to close its doors indefinitely until they are able to secure operational funding.
Although not as renown as the Apartheid Museum, Liliesleaf was an important part of Johannesburg’s apartheid history exhibits.
At the farm, visitors could enter original-looking thatched farm houses and experience the events that led up to the raid through audio and visual displays, as well as learn about more general resistance to the white-minority government.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.It was characterized by an authoritarian political culture which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation’s minority white population
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