This building houses and upholds the supreme law of the land in South Africa. It houses not only the courtroom, but also beautiful, airy spaces filled with South African art. But over and above that, the symbolism that it invokes is the kind that gives you goose-bumps. It is built on the site of a much-feared apartheid prison, and some of the bricks from the old structure have been incorporated in the walls that now protect what has been called one of the world’s most progressive constitutions. Like with so many things in the New South Africa, it is about finding ways of reconciling with the past rather than erasing it.
The preamble to the Constitution reads like a poem:
‘We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”