And at the corner of history and culture on a South African street, you will spot this
While the mention of South Africa immediately reminds you of safaris, glamping, bungee jumping, shark cage diving, exquisite wines and diverse food, there is another aspect of this vibrant country that is equally appealing — its rich and diverse cultural history.
And an inseparable part of that historic fabric is its iconic leader — Nelson Mandela or, as he is affectionately known, Madiba. Mandela doesn't need an introduction, but did you know it's been a century since he was born? A century. That's a 100 years!
That's right. July 18, 2018, that is today, (also known as Mandela Day), marks the passage of a century since the birth of the revolutionary. And we're going on a Mandela trail down South African roads. Walk with us, maybe?
A view of Robben Island
Nelson Mandela spent 18 immensely challenging years in prison on this little island situated off the coast of Cape Town. Robben Island is now a World Heritage site and museum. Although from the 17th to the 20th century, the island was a place of imprisonment, today it is a beacon of hope. Trips to Robben Island begin from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront, where ferries transfer you to the former prison.
Through the years, Constitution Hill functioned mainly as a prison. It was here that many passive resistors and freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, were held. The site has two permanent exhibitions that revolve around the lives of both these revolutionaries. Constitution Hill reminds one of the need for radical reform and equality for which Mandela was fighting and ultimately achieved. Constitution Hill in Johannesburg is now a fascinating museum and home to South Africa’s constitutional court.
A part of the Apartheid Museum
Apartheid — a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination — had infiltrated every nerve of the country. These dogmas (or the resistance towards them) helped shape Mandela’s entire life and nowhere can you get a better grip on the struggles of the time than at the Apartheid Museum, situated south of Johannesburg. Opened in 2001, it is known for its illustrious display of the rise and fall of Apartheid. Allow yourself at least a couple of hours to soak it all in.
50 steel rods align to create Mandela's portrait at Capture Site
This is where after 17 months of evading Apartheid authorities, Nelson Mandela was arrested. On August 5, 1962, police flagged down a car driven by Mandela in a chauffeur's uniform while he was returning from a secret meeting with the African National Congress president. To mark the historic spot, a sculpture comprising of 50 steel rods that align to create a magnificent portrait of Mandela has been erected.
Mandela moved into this house in 1946
Situated in Vilakazi Street, the humble home Mandela moved into in 1946 gives visitors an insight into the Mandela family. “It was the opposite of grand,” he wrote in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, “but it was my first true home of my own and I was mightily proud”. The house is filled with memorabilia about the family, complete with photographs and visuals. Vilakazi Street is usually flooded with visitors wanting a glimpse into the home, hence getting an early start to this place might be a good idea.