The City of Johannesburg has signed a collaborative agreement with the Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) to support the development of the ambitious R950 million (€55.7m) Thabo Mbeki Presidential Centre (TMPC) heritage precinct in Riviera, Johannesburg.
The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library will be the anchor project of the TMPC precinct – situated near the cultural hub of Rosebank and the Sandton CBD – which is set to open by mid-2024.
According to the TMF, approximately 60% of the funding for the project will come from governments, foundations and corporations, 30% will come from high-nett-worth Individuals, and crowdfunding and social media sources will secure the last 10%.
A TMF spokesperson said the TMPC would provide a lens through which visitors could better understand the history of the liberation of Africa.
“This is an important milestone to not only invest in and celebrate our heritage, but also presents a golden opportunity in our efforts to continuously promote Johannesburg as a key destination to both locals and visitors,” said the Speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Nonceba Molwele.
“As a strategic tourism and heritage intervention, the collaboration entered into today will be integral to key mechanisms and interventions around job creation, SMME opportunities, knowledge advancement, heritage preservation, experience, as well as the betterment of livelihoods.”
She said this would be a game-changer and the first move of its kind in diversifying the heritage offering in Johannesburg. Heritage is one of the city’s newly identified niche development areas in its first independent tourism strategy, approved in April this year.
“This strategy caters for both tourism demand and supply, with clear implementable recommendations in unlocking tourism’s economic potential,” Molwele added.
Living library and museum
The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library (TMPL) is intended to be a living library and museum that will narrate the story of Africa through and beyond former President Thabo Mbeki’s – and other African leaders – work and impact within the larger context of African liberation and development.
Designed by renowned Ghanaian-British architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE, the TMPL will comprise an archive, library, gardens, commercial mixed-use space and the Mbeki House as a Living Museum.
The collection will include thousands of items from the Mbeki Family, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and many other historic and contemporary leaders related to the mission of renewing Africa.
The collection will include papers of individuals, records of organisations or entities; clothing, costumes, protest banners, photographic materials, painting, sculpture, architecture, music, drawings and political cartoons, artefacts and oral histories – through audio, video, transcriptions, and project records
The TMPL will not present a "fixed singular narrative" of Africa's emancipation and progress. Instead, the core exhibitions will be designed so that the elements can be revised or reconfigured easily and visitors can explore a wide range of evolving topics and themes over time.
It will reflect our research into the needs, desires, and interests of Africans, while also drawing upon the expertise of academics and practitioners, says the TMF.
The TMPL will be built on the following foundational programmes that enable discovery, learning and innovation:
• Women and Gender
• Arts and Media
“This is an ambitious but a necessary journey, and it is only with the City’s support that we can achieve the establishment of the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library,” related Max Boqwana, CEO of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.
“In the words of our patron, former President Mbeki, my vision for the new presidential library aims to encompass both an African past and an African future. It will be a place where Africans uncover their own history and identity. A place where we are empowered to script a brighter and more prosperous future.”