Constitution Hill is as an interactive heritage facility. This means that we actively engage the public on issues relating to our site and its principles in ways that stretch beyond the stagnant exhibition offerings typical of most museums.
We do this through our public programmes, which take a variety of forms, enabling us to embrace current issues, celebrate days of national significance, address matters of public interest and create a forum for public debate.
A lekgotla in South Africa refers to a meeting or get-together, and is based on the traditional concept of elders gathering to ponder and question. This spirit of lekgotla is echoed in the architecture of the Constitutional Court.
Different series of lekgotlas are organised to give visitors the opportunity to use and explore the history and offerings of the site in order to inspire debate and discussion around important contemporary issues. Former prisoners, experts, academics and practitioners from all walks of life are invited to present ideas, facilitate talks, debate, discuss and educate in a variety of formats.
This is a way of providing individuals with the resources and space to define their place in a changing South Africa. This programme often includes school tours.
The lekgotlas include:
Encounter lekgotlas facilitate meetings between decision makers and members of the public. The aim here is to encourage dialogue and public accountability.
Dialogue lekgotlas are informal interactions. They happen between groups of learners, or NGO or community audiences, with an invited guest/speaker who may or may not be a decision maker or a policymaker.
Debate lekgotlas follow the formal structure of a debate.
Rapid response lekgotlas
Rapid response lekgotlas are intended to pick up on the hot issues and conversations of the day. This series responds to issues raised by courts (in particular, matters heard by the Constitutional Court), current affairs and other contemporary challenges. The format for these is a talk show, and there is a voting component that becomes a means of measuring public opinion.
BUA! Speak Out!
The BUA! component is a lively forum for young poets and artists to workshop and perform around themes related to democracy, social justice, freedom, non-racism and non-sexism. Constitution Hill has also had great success with a children’s BUA! as a form of expression, and has a dedicated space for it in the Children's Room.
The skills development programme focuses on democracy, community development and leadership skills. This programme aims to encourage active citizenship and the building of democracy and social justice through dialogue, community action and leadership skills.
Public seminars allow speakers to present research, interpretations or a set of ideas on a relevant topic (either as a one-off seminar, or a series). The audience is encouraged to ask questions and engage with the speakers.
The Harold Wolpe Lecture Series is one of the public seminar series held at Constitution Hill and is aimed at providing a platform for public engagement around social, political and economic issues facing South Africa in the global context.
Constitution Kids is a programme for young children between the ages three and 12 that brings to life children’s rights as they are enshrined in the Bill of Rights in a unique African, tactile, fun and interactive way, so that children can understand their attitudes, feelings, values, responsibilities and rights. The Constitution Kids programme takes places in the Children’s Room, which permits a space in which children can play and express themselves creatively, including through music and storytelling. Establishing the Children’s Room has provided links between the Constitution, democracy and the experience of young people in the inner city.
Through a series of special events, Constitution Hill seeks to showcase and celebrate different cultures and diverse linguistics, and promote tolerance and human rights. Constitution Hill also aims to promote new types of experimental performances that are not showcased in conventional theatre venues.
Temporary visual-art exhibitions
These exhibitions of visual art, photography and various forms of documentary materials are hosted to provide a voice for visual performance artists or commentators who wish to comment on pertinent social, political and cultural issues. These exhibits have attracted a key arts audience that may not otherwise have engaged with the Constitution.