Join Iziko Museums of South Africa on Saturday, 20 March 2021 for a virtual public discussion in commemoration of Human Rights Day. Titled What does Human Rights Day mean in the times of Covid-19 and post-apartheid South Africa?, this discussion features presentations by Rev. Chris Nissen, Kgotsi Chikane, and Mohau Pheko – and considers the meaning of human rights, as well as how they have been impacted by Covid-19 and the national lockdown in South Africa.
The virtual public discussion will be hosted via Zoom, and runs from 11:00 until 12:30. Register here: https://bit.ly/HumanRightsDay_ZoomRegistration to participate!
On Human Rights Day – Sunday, 21 March 2020 – visit select Iziko Museums for *FREE! This includes the Iziko South African Museum, the Iziko South African National Gallery and the Iziko Maritime Centre located at Union Castle House at the V&A Waterfront. When visiting the Museums, your health and safety, and that of our staff, is of utmost importance. Please note that there are Covid-19 protocols in place to ensure the safety of both staff and visitors; we thank you for all your efforts in maintaining social distancing to keep both yourself and us safe.
About Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 21 March, in commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, and reminds South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.
On 21 March 1960, the community of Sharpeville and Langa townships, like their fellow compatriots across the country, embarked on a protest march against pass laws, led by the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). The apartheid police shot and killed 69 of the protesters at Sharpeville, many of them shot while fleeing; many people were also killed in other parts of the country. The tragedy came to be known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it exposed the apartheid government’s deliberate violation of human rights. The 1960s came to be characterised by systematic defiance and protest against apartheid and racism across the country.
When South Africa held its first democratic election in 1994, with Nelson Mandela elected as its first democratic President; 21 March, Human Rights Day, was officially proclaimed a public holiday. The Sharpeville Massacre was a defining moment in the fight against the apartheid system in South Africa and the country has come a long way since those days. It now has a democracy, and human rights are embedded in the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution.
The South African Constitution, one of the most progressive in the world, was signed into law by former President, Nelson Mandela, on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 1996 in Sharpeville. This significant moment in our history forms the foundation of our democracy, affirming the rights of all citizens. Today we celebrate 21 March as Human Rights Day – a day where we commemorate the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives advocating for dignity, equality and liberty and celebrate our rights enshrined in the Constitution.
*FREE entry excludes the Iziko Bo Kaap Museum, the Iziko Slave Lodge, Groot Constantia, the Castle of Good Hope, the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome, and Museums currently closed for repairs and renovations.