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Discover the History of Liliesleaf Farm

There are numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions that have dedicated their work to showcasing a part of South Africa’s history that is not easy to forget: the Apartheid Era. But there is one location in the country, in the north of Johannesburg, which is directly connected to this time period and is a location that led to the notorious Rivonia Trial. Although the city has sprung up and expanded around Liliesleaf Farm, the building remains and has been transformed into an interactive museum that allows visitors to explore the events leading up to, during and after the Rivonia Trial.

The African National Congress, or ANC, used the Liliesleaf Farm as a gathering place for activists and those who supported the cause of the ANC. Harold Wolpe and Arthur Goldreich were secretly supportive of the ANC and purchased Lilieleaf Farm, located in the suburb of Rivonia, in 1961. Here, members of the underground movement could meet without the fear of being seen, and even Nelson Mandela himself stayed on the farm under an assumed name, playing the role of a farm worker when the need arose. Unfortunately, neighbors began to become suspicious of the number of people visiting the farm and the fact that people of different races were getting together on Liliesleaf. The rumors and stories eventually made their way to the police. On the evening when the last meeting was to take place, as members had decided to find a new safe retreat, the police raided the farm on 11 July 1963, and arrested all nineteen members they discovered on the farm. The ANC supporters were charged with sabotage, and even though Nelson Mandela was already in jail, documents found on the farm involving his participation led to him being made a part of the Rivonia Trial. Eight members were given life sentences in the trial, which began in 1963 and ended in June 1964. Names connected to the farm included Bob Hepple, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Denis Goldberg, Joe Slovo and Bram Fischer.

Recognizing the importance of Liliesleaf Farm, it was opened as a museum in 2008. The museum has a variety of documents, photographs and interactive exhibits that enlightens the public to the ideals and beliefs that the men of Liliesleaf Farm were fighting for and pays tribute to everyone who ever stepped foot on the farm to support the abolition of Apartheid.


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