Thursday, June 05, 2014

Remembering Mandela Around South Africa

Visiting South Africa not that long after the great man's passing, it was emotional seeing images and remembrances of Nelson Mandela almost everywhere. The man responsible for the birth of the Rainbow Nation, and it's constitution built on equality and human rights, the former President is remembered all over the country.

One of the most significant sights around the nation was the very new Mandela statue on the grounds of in Pretoria. The 9 metre bronze version of the great man, with arms outstretched, overlooks the gardens and then the spread of the South African capital, and is very impressive.

The temporary Nelson Mandela exhibit within the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg at present is powerful, and lays out the journey of the powerful work leader from his childhood, to his university and working days, into his political and activist involvement, before his imprisonment. It works through the history of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, and the eventual election of Mandela as President.

Another significant vision of Mandela around the country  is the metal cutout of him in the Voting Line of people, standing strong on Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth. Representing the monumental vote in 1994, and depicting people of all walks of life within South Africa.

After the Port Elizabeth Test, I hit the road on my own on a mission to visit Qunu - the tiny rural town which was where Nelson Mandela spent his childhood, and where he is now buried.

It was incredible to see the small rural area, and the very basic village life, of the area where such a significant man to the world's understanding of equality came from. Such very humble beginnings.

The little village is not at all set up for tourism, and the Nelson Mandela Museum is not fully finished nor ready for visitors. When I made it up to the gates, after a harrowing drive through rain like I have never seen, the groundskeeper agreed to show me around nonetheless. The open space overlooks the N2, and the Mandela home was pointed out to me across the vast countryside. I had just unknowingly driven past it - it's not at all marked from the highway.

The Museum is Mandela's idea, and houses learning spaces and accommodation for conferences, in addition to 2 rooms displaying timelines of history and the Mandela story.

Robbin Island off Cape Town is another important place to visit, to gain an understanding of the life of Nelson Mandela - which I went to visit, including the cell in which he was imprisoned for 26 years, back in 2006.

His image is really everywhere - it adorns political and public health messages, is outlined on buildings in the cityscape of Cape Town, and is the inspiration of many brilliant pieces of street art around the land.

The death of such a man touched the world, and is remembered well all over South Africa.
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