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TThe National Archives and Records Service of South Africa was established by declaration of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No 43 of 1996 as amended). This piece of legislation transformed the former State Archives Service into a National Archives and Records Service. Their mission, functions and structures mirror the South African democratic political order and imperatives, and fosters a national identity and the protection of rights.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, and Mandela himself in a recorded message, stressed the importance of archives and memory in taking the country from its past into its future. The National Archives should be our leading depository of material relating to the past. He further added that the national archives should be our go-to repository of all history-related material.
CCurrently the NAR houses archival records on South Africa's history dating back to the year 1829. This material can be divided into the period of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), 1829 - 1900; the Transvaal Colony period, 1900 - 1910; the Transvaal Province period, 1910 - 1994; and National Government records from 1910 onward. Many of these recordings relate to the political trials that happened during the apartheid regime.
South African National archives
TThe Rivonia Treason Trial, one of the most significant political trials in South African history, led to a life sentence for former president Nelson Mandela. At the trial (1963-1964), Mandela was sentenced together with fellow freedom-fighters Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi, Denis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada. They were all accused of trying to overthrow the apartheid state. During the trial, the proceedings were recorded on 591 dictabelts. (Dictabelts are analogue audio recordings invented in 1947 and discontinued in the 1980s).
TThe National Archives Reading Room is open for public use, Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:00 and on the first Saturday of each month excluding January. Archival records consist of public records and non-public records. Public records are created by government, government departments and organisations in the course of performing their functions. Non-public records are private records and papers created by private individuals and donated to the Archives Repository. Although access to archival documentation is free of charge, the public is charged for the reproduction of material for further use - either on film or paper. Publications are sold.
Take a tour of Soweto, Johannesburg’s vibrant city-within-a-city – apart from learning the history of the struggle against apartheid, you can immerse yourself in a modern urban vibe with lots to do.
South Africans are a diverse mix of peoples from Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, and the many museums scattered around the country preserve rich histories, heritages and cultural traditions.
South Africa is a country of rich religious diversity, protected by the Constitution, so explore sacred architecture and spiritual traditions at our many historic places of worship.
Wits Art Museum – part of the University of the Witwatersrand – houses an African art collection that was started in the 1920s and includes masks, photographs, paintings and more.
There are many well-known historic and contemporary art works on display in art museums and galleries in each of South Africa's 9 provinces, with many important permanent art collections centred in the country's major cities.
National Stadium in Soweto, which was known as ‘Soccer City’ during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, is available for tours. Because of massive demand, however, you will need to book ahead to secure your trip around the famous sporting venue. Tours, which last up to 90 minutes, are available on Thursdays. During the tour, guests will visit the exclusive VIP suites, change rooms, warm-up areas, players' tunnel, the pitch, and upper sections of the stands.
House 8115, Vilakazi Street, Orlando, Soweto, has become one of the most famous addresses in South Africa. It is the house where former South African President Nelson Mandela lived, on and off, for more than 14 years.
Liliesleaf Farm was for many years a meeting place and hide-out for top African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) personnel – it is now a museum.