South Africa: 10 places that celebrate Nelson Mandela

1. ROBBEN ISLAND MUSEUM, OFF CAPE TOWN

The most famous inmate of this former island prison was South African freedom fighter and president Nelson Mandela, who was born 100 years ago this year. An excursion to this museum in Table Bay reveals the grim reality of his time behind bars. Visitors to Robben are taken by bus to key sites, including the lime quarry where political prisoners laboured, before a former inmate leads the way through the cell blocks. It's a fascinating insight into a heroic struggle. See robben-island.org.za/

2. NOBEL SQUARE, CAPE TOWN

Cape Town, South Africa - May 14, 2015: Nobel Square with the four statues commemorating Nobel prize winners. sunjul15traveller10 - 10 sights celebrating Nelson Mandela?s life by Tim Richards CREDIT: Shutterstock

Statutes of Nobel prize winners at Nobel Square. Photo: Shutterstock

 

In the lively V&A Waterfront precinct stands a set of statues of the four South Africans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. Sculpted larger than life, they overlook a shaded square with the placid harbour at their backs. A good place for a selfie, but also for reflection on their achievements in avoiding conflict. See nobelsquare.com

3. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM STATUE, PAARL

Outside Cape Town, the prison now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre was where Nelson Mandela spent his last period of incarceration by the apartheid-era regime. When he was released on February 11, 1990, he walked out of its confines with a smile on his face and his fist raised high. That triumphant moment is now captured by this statue in front of the gates, with Mandela depicted in mid-stride above a broken set of bars.

4. NELSON MANDELA MUSEUM, MTHATHA

This institution in Eastern Cape province explores Mandela's early life, growing up in a rural district. Its exhibits are spread across three sites: Mvezo, where Mandela was born; Qunu, where he spent his childhood; and Mthatha. The latter's historic Bhunga building houses exhibitions about his journey, and gifts given to the great man. See nelsonmandelamuseum.org.za

5. NELSON MANDELA CAPTURE SITE, NEAR HOWICK

HOWICK, SOUTH AFRICA - 16 JUNE 2017: A memorial to Nelson Mandela at the site where the activist was captured in 1962. The sculpture was created by Marco Cianfanelli using steel beams. Editorial. sunjul15traveller10 - 10 sights celebrating Nelson Mandela?s life by Tim Richards CREDIT: Shutterstock

A memorial to Nelson Mandela at the site where the activist was captured in 1962. Photo: Shutterstock 

Northwest of Durban, in rolling green farmland, is a memorial to a key moment. It was here Mandela was arrested by security forces in 1962, leading to his 27 years of imprisonment. The site is approached by a long path lined with milestones marking developments in his life. At the end is a sculpture of vertical steel beams, which reveal Mandela's profile when viewed from the right angle. It's a remarkable and moving effect. See thecapturesite.co.za

6. NELSON MANDELA STATUE, PRETORIA

Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings, Pretoria.

Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings, Pretoria. Photo: South African Tourism

The Union Buildings in South Africa's executive capital were once the nerve centre of apartheid, and later saw Mandela sworn in as president. Now they're home to a lofty nine-metre-high statue of the man, erected after his death in 2013. The statue's open arms symbolise Mandela's commitment to reconciliation.

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7. MANDELA HOUSE, SOWETO

The entrance door of the Mandela home now transformed into a museum in Soweto, South Africa.

The entrance door of the Mandela home now transformed into a museum in Soweto, South Africa. Photo: Shutterstock

This humble residence in south-west Johannesburg was once the home of Mandela and his family, including his first wife, Evelyn, and his second wife, Winnie. Nowadays it's a museum crammed with photos, awards and personal belongings. An interesting way to visit it is on a quad bike tour run by Soweto Outdoor Adventures. See mandelahouse.com sowetooutdooradventures.co.za

8. LILIESLEAF FARM, JOHANNESBURG

This former farm was once a safe house for the freedom struggle, where Mandela lived under an assumed name while posing as a labourer. This underground role came to an end after a 1963 raid. Now swallowed by suburbia, it's a museum offering tours and exhibits dealing with that eventful era. See liliesleaf.co.za

9. CHANCELLOR HOUSE, JOHANNESBURG

In the 1950s, this building housed the offices of the legal firm founded by Mandela and Oliver Tambo, which helped black South Africans in their struggles with unjust laws. A small museum sits within their former rooms, and outside stands the Shadow Boxer statue of Mandela in fighting stance.

10. NELSON MANDELA SQUARE, JOHANNESBURG

After absorbing the story of Mandela's life and struggles, you can relax in the distinctly less challenging surrounds of this square in the upmarket Sandton district. A hub of dining and shopping, it's dominated by a statue of a dancing Mandela. It's a reminder of the lighter side of life, and Mandela's final, joyful triumph over oppression. See nelsonmandelasquare.co.za

Tim Richards travelled courtesy of South African Tourism.

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