The passing of South Africa’s beloved former president, Nelson Mandela, was an event that shook the world and reminded us all of the long lasting impact that Mandela’s long walk to freedom holds. For those visiting South Africa in 2014, honouring the memory and legacy of Madiba is a great way to enhance a trip to the ‘Rainbow Nation’ and follow in the footsteps of the country’s recent history.
Here are 10 great ways you can honour Mandela’s past and South Africa’s future:
Robben Island, Cape Town
A visit to the cell in which Mandela lived for much of his 27 years of imprisonment is a must-see excursion and is an easy ferry ride from the Cape Town waterfront. Now a World Heritage Site, Robben Island boasts tour guides that were once prisoners within its walls, adding a special something to your visit. Be sure to book in advance to ensure your place on the ferry.
Drakenstein Correctional Centre, outskirts of Cape Town
Formerly Victor Verster Prison, where Mandela was held in the later stages of his incarceration, this operational prison boasts a large statue of Madiba. Most don’t know that it was actually the location of Mandela’s release. Located just outside of Cape Town, it’s well worth a visitand you’ll be able to follow the road Mandela famously walked on his first day of freedom.
67 Minutes on Nelson Mandela Day (country-wide)
Volunteering on a South African project with African Impact in July of 2014 will be a special occasion. July 18th will mark what would have been Mandela’s 95th birthday, and it is sure to be a celebration of his life. In years past, Mandela encouraged South Africans to give 67 minutes of their time to community service on his birthday, in honour of his 67 years of sacrifice in the struggle for freedom. What better way to immerse yourself in the history and spirit of Mandela than by joining the rest of this vibrant nation in giving community service on this day?
Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
If you have an extra day or two in the bustling Johannesburg metropolis, make a stop at the Apartheid Museum and learn a little of South Africa’s racially-tense history and struggle for democracy.
Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg
Take in one of the country’s many larger-than-life Mandela statues in Sandton, Johannesburg. A quick ride from the airport on the Gautrain will get you to Nelson Mandela Square, where Madiba’s face smiles down on you. While on a layover at OR Tambo airport, it’s also the perfect destination for a few hours of shopping and dining.
Soweto Town Tour, Johannesburg
Take a tour of South Africa’s largest township – Soweto – and take in the culture, customs and diversity that inspired Mandela’s term “Rainbow Nation.” If you’re lucky, your guide will even take you by a home where Mandela and his family once lived. Most tours run from Johannesburg backpackers or can be arranged upon your arrival.
Union Buildings, Pretoria
Although it’s not necessarily a tourist destination, passing by The State Building to catch a glimpse of the operating government buildings in Pretoria where Mandela’s body lay in state for three days in December last year will surely be an interesting moment. The newly-erected statue of Mandela is also a great landmark to visit.
Midlands, KwaZulu Natal
Up until the 50th anniversary of Mandela’s capture in 2012, this site was marked only by a small plaque, but now the site boasts a steel sculpture that’s worth a stop if you’re traveling in the easternmost province of South Africa. It is here that Mandela’s long, dark walk towards freedom began, as it led to his 27-year imprisonment.
Nelson Mandela Museum, Qunu
Although it’s small in comparison to the sprawling museums of the cities, a visit to Mandela’s birthplace of Qunu is a must if you’re a diehard follower. Way (and we mean way) off the beaten track, you’ll need to really make a plan to see the museum, which overlooks Mandela’s childhood home and preschool where he was given the name “Nelson” by a teacher.
Catch a sporting event, country-wide
Madiba loved any and all sports (caught the film Invictus yet?) so taking in a soccer, cricket or rugby match in one of the country’s beautiful stadiums will be a perfect ode to his memory!