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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s 2018 Centenary Celebration


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    Barack Obama in front of Nelson Mandela comemoratioin sign

    Poster commemorating Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela, widely referred to by a tribal honorific, Madiba, would have been 100 years old this year. South Africa, and the world, has taken this opportunity to commemorate his life and legacy with a series of ongoing events, exhibitions and performances that are designed to serve as examples of and foster a more inclusive society that promotes diversity and social justice. Active participation and interaction is encouraged so that participants gain a deeper understanding of the values Mandela esteemed. Madiba's Journey application is an outstanding tool that includes maps, narratives and additional practical information.

    portraint of Nelson Mandela  

    Sites and activities are offered across the country, are accessible and clearly marked and give travelers an opportunity to learn more about the Republic of South Africa and how his legacy has impacted the country. Great care has been taken to include the individuals who mentored and influenced Madiba, beginning with his parents, on his journey. On the eve of Mandela's birthday, July 17th, Barack Obama will deliver the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. @visitSouthAfrica


    The 471,008-square mile South Africa is stunning. It is bordered by two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, and has 1,836-miles of coastline. There are eight UNESCO sites, one of which is considered the "Cradle of Humankind", a Hominid fossil site with artifacts that date back 3-million years. The "Out of Africa" theory is based on findings in the Sterkfontein Caves and more than 10 other sites exhibiting numerous bones. There are two exhibition centers, one of which, in Maropeng, is built to replicate an ancient burial mound. www.thecradleofmankind.net

    Africans being led aboard slave ships

    It is the largest producer of chrome, platinum and vanadium, has the world's second largest reserve of uranium and has every mineral except oil. It is known for the diamonds mined there and the Kimberley Mine alone has produced 14.5 million carats. Because of the country's abundance European settlers honed in on what they felt was free land for the taking, eventually marginalizing the native Africans (Bantus) and establishing a system of segregation in 1910 that led to the founding of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912. The system was  legalized as apartheid in 1950 and the Group Areas Act demanded that nearly 2-million Africans be removed from cities and made to live in poverty in white controlled townships. It is into this country of vast, unequal, wealth and potential that Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, educated and set out on his "Long Walk to Freedom".

    quote of Nelson Mandela

    Johannesburg is rife with locations, monuments and memorials connected with the struggle and offers the best opportunity to gain an overview of Madiba's journey, the country's history and the people and cultures involved. #meetSouthAfrica 

    The Apartheid Museum opened in 2001 to provide a comprehensive overview of apartheid. Thirty-two exhibitions guide visitors from the origins of apartheid to the reconciliation process. Outdoor exhibits feature SA's ancient history. Chronologic galleries interpret the story in films, photographs, artifacts and dioramas. www.apartheidmuseum.org

    lebo's Soweta tours

    The South Western Townships (Soweto), the most recognized of the townships, was first settled in 1891. In 1948 the government began forcing black Africans out of Johannesburg and into Soweto, situated on polluted land. There were no public services and houses could not exceed 4 rooms of equal size. Streetlights were not installed until 2010 in the township of 1.5-million inhabitants. It was a site of protest and rebellion. Lebo's Soweto Tours offers guided, narrated tours of Soweto's famous sites by foot, bike or Tuk Tuk. Their outdoor restaurant serves authentic meals cooked over a fire. www.sowetobackpackers.com

    streeet sign

    Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world that housed two Nobel Peace Prize winners, President Nelson Mandela and Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, is the site of the restored Mandela House. Tours showcase family personal items.  He, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and his family lived there from 1946. Mandela returned there for 11 days after he was freed from Robben's Island. www.mandelahouse.com

    old fort on Constitution hill

    Constitution Hill is a must visit. The complex features the Constitutional Court, Old Fort, Women's Jail and Number Four. White prisoners were held in the Old Fort and in 1902 Numbers Four and Five were built to house black prisoners. Walter Sisulu, Gandhi, and Nelson and Winnie Mandela were held here in inhuman conditions. Tours of the prison are conducted by former prisoners and include Gandhi and Madiba's cells, vivid interpretations of prison life and the isolation cells. Do not miss this tour. www.constitutionhill.org.za

    Constitutional Court

    The Constitutional Court was opened here in 1995 by Mandela. The location was selected to represent the new South Africa linking this place of oppression with the new order. The architectural and design elements enhance the story of South Africa. 

    Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial

    In 1955 Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication was the site of a gathering to adopt the Freedom Charter that was used as a template for the modern constitution. Ten columns symbolize the charter's clauses. The 2002 Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial is dedicated to thirteen-year old Pieterson who was killed in the 1976 Student Uprising. A photograph of the dying Pieterson, displayed at the site, being carried by another student gained the world's attention and galvanized the movement.

    sign at Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial  

    Regina Mundi is Soweto's largest catholic church. It provided sanctuary for students in the 1976 protest. Police officers fired on the 4,000 students inside and a tour reveals bullet holes, a black Madonna and stained-glass windows that depict the story. Police shot off one hand of a Christ sculpture and the congregants removed the other hand because they are now "the hands of Christ." Michele Obama visited in 2011. www.reginamundichurch.co.za 

    Keyes Art Mile is representative of the country's emerging art scene. The area is a perfect blend of art, architecture and upscale retail. www.keyesartmile.co.za 

    The Da Vinci Hotel and Suites is a wonderful choice for following Madiba's Trail or simply visiting the city. The location is within walking distance of important locations, restaurants and world class shopping. The 4-star hotel offers modern amenities, on-site spa and gym and a gourmet restaurant. www.davincihotelsuitesjohannesburg.com

    pottery in Duban

    Durban looms large in the history of South Africa in general and the Zulu in particular. On December 24, 1497 Vasco da Gama sailed into Durban's bay and named the area "Terra do Natal", the land of Christmas, the next day. In 1824 the British made contact with Shaka, King of the Zulu. Shaka remains so fabled that elements of Black Panther were taken from his legend. In 1835 the area was named after Governor Benjamin D'Urban. Shaka granted permission for the British to build a trading station and Durban remains the country's largest port and the second biggest city. www.durban.gov.za              

    The Zulu were never thrilled with the presence of outsiders and fought periodic bloody battles to preserve their homeland. The final uprising took place in 1906. In 1844 the region became part of the British Cape Colony.

    The Inanda Heritage Route interprets the story of the Inanda Valley just outside of Durban. Gandhi's Phoenix Settlement, his 100-acre farm and home is now a museum. The nearby Ohlange Institute was founded by John Dube and modelled on Tuskegee Institute. Dube also founded the ANC and was greatly admired by Madiba. After casting his first vote in 1994 in the school's chapel Mandela visited Dube's grave and reportedly said, "Mr. President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is free today." www.visitdurban.travel

    Nelson Mandela capture site memorials sign at Nelson Mandela capture site memorials
    Nelson Mandela capture site memorials

     The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is located on the site where he was captured in August 1962. Mandela, disguised as a chauffeur, was apprehended, after a 17-month police pursuit, on this road between Durban and Johannesburg. He stepped out of the car and onto a broader stage of history. A temporary museum exhibits compelling photographs, many rare family pictures. A magnificent sculpture, 31-ft. high and 99-ft. wide is comprised of fifty steel columns that when viewed at a certain angle depict a 2-dimensional image of Madiba. The emerging picture represents his disappearance and reemergence 27- years later. The sculpture is accessed via a twisting path lined with wayside markers that relate benchmarks in his journey. The www.thecapturesite.co.zaImage of Nelson Mandela at The Campanile,

    LaVue Floating Restaurant is one of Durban's unique treasures. The boat offers two decks, two bars, an amazing buffet and dancing beneath the stars. Guests obtain awesome views of the city skyline. www.la-vue.co.za

    The Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel is a beachfront hotel ideally situated to provide easy access to outdoor activities and indoor pleasures. www.tsogosun.com/southern-sun-elangeni-maharani

    Port Elizabeth, part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, was founded in 1820 as a buffer between the Xhosa and the Cape Colony. The city was named in memory of the wife of Sir Rufane Donkin. In 1965 enforced removals of non-whites began and townships were created. The Donkin Heritage Trail links 51 historic locations and interprets the history of the city. The trail begins at The Campanile, a 176-ft., 204-step, tower with 360-degree views. www.nmbt.co.za

    The Campanile

    Route 67 is an arts and cultural route that features 67 public art works representing Madiba's 67-year journey to free South Africa. The route begins at the Campanile Monument and ends at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. The route's premiere artwork is the 125-ft. long Voting Line Sculpture depicting his first vote at the age of 72. The laser-cut figures represent children and people from all walks of life. www.route67tours.co.za

    The 5-star Boardwalk Hotel stands on the Golden Mile. All of the accommodations boast  deluxe amenities and ocean views. www.suninternational.com/boardwalk

    ocean view of Robben Island at Capetown

    Cape Town, known as "The Mother City", was established to resupply the Dutch East India Company. In 1795 the British seized the town and in 1814 the British took total control. In 1910 it became the legislative capital of the Union of South Africa. After apartheid was legislated many of the anti-apartheid leaders were incarcerated in the prison on Robben Island.             

    Table Mountain has been inhabited for more than 30,000-years and was sacred to the Khoi and San people. The first European to sight it was Bartolomeu Dias in 1448. In 1929 a cable car was installed so that visitors could ride to the top at 3563-ft. above sea level. No trip is complete without a visit and a view. www.tablemountainnationalpark.org

    Groot Constantia vineyards

    Groot Constantia has been producing award-winning wines since 1685. Visitors can tour the authentic Cape Dutch Manor House, wine taste, view exhibits in the museum and dine. www.grootconstantia.co.za

    Slave Lodge at Cape Town

    On a City Walk you can take in the Slave Lodge, a museum on several levels. Exhibits feature South African slavery history and modern human rights. www.iziko.org.za/museums/slave-lodge

    Tour guide explains Robbens Island Prison

    Cell at Robbens Island Prison

    Robben Island, a World Heritage Site, was the scene of Madiba's incarceration for 18-years. He and other activist prisoners turned their imprisonment into an opportunity to educate and to learn. Visits begin with a boat ride to the island followed by a narrated bus ride to the significant sites. Your guide for the walking prison tour is a former prisoner who takes questions and escorts you to Mandela's cell. Other important areas are the limestone quarry where prisoners worked and the garden in which Mandela hid the manuscript he later had smuggled out. www.robben-island.org.za

    Table Bay Hotel in Cape town

    The 5-star Table Bay Hotel is simply the best place to stay in Cape Town. The accommodations are luxurious and it is situated on the V&A Waterfront, in the heart of the action. www.suninternational.com/table-bay

    Nobel Square on the waterfront.with sculptures of Desmond Tutu, Nkosi Albert Luthuli, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela

    The perfect place to end our path through Madiba's Journey is in Nobel Square on the waterfront. There sculptures of Desmond Tutu, Nkosi Albert Luthuli, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, all Nobel Prize winners, are arrayed in the square for contemplation and photo ops. These are people who worked to become the change they wanted to see. #VisitSouthAfrica

    Nelson Mandels's final home

    Mandela's final home in Johannesburg. Not open to the public 

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    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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