constitutionhill

OUR STRUGGLE OUR FREEDOM OUR CONSTITUTION

Discover the known and unknown stories of the making and working of the South African constitution and its role today

Discover the known and unknown stories of the making and working of the South African constitution and its role today

This online exhibition and archive tells the remarkable story of how South Africa’s Constitution and Constitutional Court were forged – a critical period in the birthing of a democratic nation. 

Few know of the intense battles that took place in the streets and were echoed in the negotiating chamber where sworn enemies sat across from one another; of the fierce debates that shaped specific provisions of the Constitution; and the many behind-the-scenes challenges that had to be overcome to allow a country of despair to become a country of hope. 

The stories told here by activists, drafters of the constitution and judges are uniquely supported by rich archival materials from the constitution-making process.  

Explore different aspects of the constitution-making journey in the tiles below.

THE CONSTITUTION AND ME TODAY

HOW DO WE GIVE LIFE TO THE CONSTITUTION?
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Animated Story of the Constitution
1908 - 1996

An animation of our story
in five parts
WATCH

NEGOTIATING OUR FREEDOM
1985 - 1994

How did bitter enemies
find common ground?
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Writing One Law for
One Nation
1994 - 1996

How did The New South Africa write its own birth certificate?
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THE TIMELINES

LEARN ABOUT THE EVENTS THAT HELPED WRITE OUR CONSTITUTION
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Our Constitution Explained

What is its unique design?
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The Constitutional Court

How does it uphold and
enforce our Constitution?
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Pioneers of the Struggle

Who are some of our history-makers?
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The Timelines

What were some of the turning points in the constitutional journey?
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From women and workers to sexual orientation

What journeys did
different communities take?
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We the People

How do we give life to the Constitution?
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VISIT THE ARCHIVE

OUR ARCHIVE HOLDS OVER 200 000 DOCUMENTS
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This platform is inspired by the spirit of ‘We, the people’, the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution, which recognises that the transformation of our country was made possible by the people who dreamt, struggled and fought for freedom and continue to do so based on their belief that ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity’.

We invite you to add to the stories of the events told here in your own words and in your own languages.

EXPLORE THE ARCHIVE

Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994