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CENTRE OF MEMORY PROJECT (article first published : 2005-03-27)

A formal agreement between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) was signed at a high profile launch ceremony at Constitution Hill earlier tonight. The focal point of this exciting partnership will be the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Commemoration, which will be housed permanently on Constitution Hill.

The Nelson Mandela Centre will honour and document the life of Nelson Mandela, one of history’s most extraordinary and inspiring individuals. Endorsed by Madiba himself, the Centre will be managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In a moving address to members of the media, Justices of the Constitutional Court and honoured guests, Mandela cited Constitution Hill as the most appropriate sight for the Centre to be located. “...(We) knew these as places of incarceration, but today, these remains are being turned into places of commemoration, so that future generations may be reminded what their freedom was built on.”

Verne Harris, Project Manager for the Centre, outlines the project’s goals as threefold: “Firstly, the Centre will have a virtual archival interface, accessible through the Internet, making material on Mr Mandela available to a global audience. Secondly, there will be a public programming initiative which will ensure that resources are taken to local communities. And thirdly, there will be a physical collection of materials, documenting mainly Mr Mandela’s post-1999 work.

“Constitution Hill has been chosen as an ideal location for the Centre because of its accessibility to both local and international visitors as well as because of its links to Mr Mandela,” Verne adds, “He was incarcerated three times between 1956 and 1962 in Awaiting Trial Block and the Old Fort. Furthermore, Constitution Hill is also home to the new Constitutional Court building, which was opened by Mr Mandela.”

The launch ceremony will also mark the 15th anniversary of Mr Mandela’s release from prison. Open to viewing at the launch will be the exhibition 466/64 - A Prisoner Working in the Garden, which displays previously unseen documents and photographs from Mr Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration. The exhibition is presently on display in the Constitutional Court’s lobby and is open to the public there until the end of April.

Constitution Hill is a multi-million rand urban regeneration development funded by the Gauteng Government's Blue IQ initiative, the City of Johannesburg, the Department of Justice and delivered by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). It is the home of South Africa’s Constitutional Court and a major new heritage and business precinct. Constitution Hill is a place where visitors can experience the story of South Africa’s transformation: See freedom denied. See freedom protected.

Further information from Vern Harris at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on 082 994 2233 or e-mail: vern@nelsonmandela.org




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