The word ‘heritage’ is directly linked to ‘inheritance’, referring to something that is passed down from one generation to the next. In the context of this website ‘heritage’ refers to the physical spaces that played a part in South Africa’s transition from a racially divided colony to the democratic republic that it is today. They are places that we might pass by everyday without understanding their significance, and that without being documented might be lost to us over time. Durban’s Liberation Heritage Route forms part of a larger multi-country Unesco programme that aims to document and commemorate Africa’s struggle for independence. According to a Unesco publication entitled Roads to Independence: The African Liberation Heritage Programme “a significant aspect of this history of African countries…..stands to be lost unless it is collected, documented and made accessible to the public”. With many of the people involved in South Africa’s struggle for liberation having already passed away, it seems fortuitous that technology has reached a point where it can facilitate the recording of this vital part of our history as a country, before it is lost forever.
So as we kick off Heritage Month in South Africa why not take the time to explore the Liberation Heritage Route mapped out on this site. While it’s great to read about the history of Durban, there’s nothing quite like hitting the streets and seeing these historic spaces ‘in the flesh’. The Google pins on the home page provide the address of each of the heritage sites, some of which are within walking distance of each other – a great way to get some exercise and to learn a bit about the city!