Edendale struggle history unveiled

2012-08-02 00:00

THE Edendale/Imbali Heritage and Freedom Route had some of the richest Midlands struggle heritage sites, but their potential to be tourism drawcards was buried by underdevelopment, Msunduzi municipal councillors were told.

This week, Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism toured the various sites with the municipality’s economic development portfolio committee.

The committee used the opportunity to learn more about the rich struggle history of the Edendale (Georgetown) community and to see the neglected local museum, found in the house of Selby Msimang, a former secretary-general of the ANC.

They also visited Manaye Hall in Imbali, where Nelson Mandela delivered his last public speech at the All-in Africa Conference before being arrested in Howick.

Committee member Sibusiso Mkhize questioned why there was no sign of the hall’s importance for tourists and passers-by.

Acting tourism director Dumisani Mhlongo said the tour was aimed at alerting the committee to the state of neglect of some of the attractions and to the need for roads, signage and ablution facilities along the route.

“We wanted to market this route to the committee in developing our heritage to attract not only locals, but ultimately to reach the foreign tourism market,” he said.

Mhlongo said local tourism would improve if the city invested in the route.

The committee would be taken to the Sobantu Heritage Route next, he added.

Committee chairperson councillor Eunice Majola said the tour was educational and the people of Edendale and Imbali should make more residents aware of the rich history of the struggle.

“My feeling is that both the provincial and local governments should invest more and ensure that locals are educated about the importance of this heritage route before attracting foreign tourists.”

Majola said the committee would put pressure on the municipality to develop the route for economic benefit to the city.

Other sites visited in Imbali were Heroes’ Acre, which houses the graves of struggle veterans Moses Mabhida and John Makhathini, the Peace Monument and the DCO Matiwane Memorial Park in Willowfountain.

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