ANC ‘birth­place’ now a na­tional her­itage site

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - LOYISO SIDIMBA

THE “birth­place” of the ANC, the Waai­hoek Wes­leyan Church in Bloem­fontein, has been de­clared a na­tional her­itage site – more than seven years after the Free State pro­vin­cial govern­ment bought the build­ing for R10 mil­lion.

The SA Her­itage Re­sources Agency (SAHRA) re­ceived an ap­pli­ca­tion for the church to be de­clared a na­tional her­itage site.

The build­ing was pre­vi­ously a panel beat­ing work­shop, and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment ren­o­vated it in time for the ANC’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions in Jan­uary 2012.

In 1912, sev­eral prom­i­nent African lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pix­ley ka Isaka Seme, Saul Msane, Sol Plaatje and WB Rubu­sana, were joined by tra­di­tional and re­li­gious lead­ers to es­tab­lish the South African Na­tive Na­tional Congress (SANNC).

In 1923, the SANNC changed its name to the African Na­tional Congress (ANC).

Ac­cord­ing to the SAHRA, the church has ex­cep­tional qual­i­ties of spe­cial na­tional sig­nif­i­cance in terms of the her­itage assess­ment cri­te­ria.

The SAHRA re­quires a writ­ten mo­ti­va­tion to de­clare a place a her­itage site.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment bought the church after lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions with Kevin Ja­cobs, who had pur­chased it for R280 000 in 2003.

ANC pro­vin­cial spokesper­son Thabo Meeko said the Free State Depart­ment of Sport, Arts, Cul­ture and Recre­ation sub­mit­ted the writ­ten mo­ti­va­tion for the church to be de­clared a na­tional her­itage site.

The depart­ment said it made the re­quest sev­eral years ago.

The ANC also plans to turn its for­mer head of­fice in Lon­don, which has been de­clared a her­itage site by the City of Lon­don, into a musuem.

The party used the prop­erty be­tween 1978 and 1994.

Ac­cord­ing to the ANC, the build­ing will be re­fur­bished and its ground floor used to show­case its Strug­gle his­tory. Its up­per floors will be ren­o­vated into res­i­den­tial units.

The Lon­don build­ing is worth R10m and is part of the ANC’s prop­erty port­fo­lio worth nearly R310m across the world.

It has given the Liliesleaf Trust the re­spon­si­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ing the build­ing and link­ing it with the his­tor­i­cal Liliesleaf Farm in Rivo­nia.

A warm wel­come in Venda.

PIC­TURE: MATTHEWS BALOYI

The Waai­hoek Wes­leyan Church in Bloem­fontein is be­ing ren­o­vated.

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