“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela Day is celebrated annually on 18 July, the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. In order to celebrate the life of Madiba South Africans have chosen to honour our first democratically elected president by performing acts of service. The message behind Mandela Day is simple: each person has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place.
If you are as big of a fan of the Mandela legacy as we are, then you have to visit some of these iconic places in order to fully immerse yourself in his profound life…
Walking around the beautifully made Voting Line sculpture at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth, you get the true sense of the Rainbow Nation of South Africa. The metal figures represent all the communities who share the land – and who voted peacefully on 27 April 1994.
Visit the home where Nelson Mandela lived with his family in Soweto, from the 1940s until the 1990s, the home to which Madiba returned after his 27 years in prison. Situated in Vilakazi Street, this iconic home has been restored to give visitors a glimpse and some insight into his family life. The home is filled with memorabilia and historical photos.
When Nelson Mandela arrived to live at a private house in the precinct of Victor Verster Prison (now Drakenstein Correctional Centre) between Paarl and Franschhoek in December 1988, it was his first taste of normal life after nearly 27 years in prison. Groot Drakenstein Prison is actually the place where the famous image of Mandela walking out of prison in 1990 is taken.
Often called the Home of the Freedom Struggle, this place was a “hide-out” and meeting place for top ANC and SACP activists. This was also the site of the Liliesleaf Farm police raid on 11 July 1963 that resulted in the Rivonia Treason Trials and eventual incarceration of many senior ANC leaders.
On 5 August 1962, police waved down a car on a lonely country road in KwaZulu-Natal. At the wheel was Nelson Mandela, posing as a chauffeur, his arrest lead to the Rivonia Treason Trial, ultimately seeing him spend 27 years in prison. Today, this site is marked by an impressive sculpture in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Until relatively recently, the Mandela Capture Site was just a small bricked area with a plaque but in 2012, an impressive steel sculpture and visitor centre was unveiled to give full recognition to the significance of this spot.
As you make your way through the corridors of Robben Island, you get transported to a time in South African history where the country reached a turning point. Standing in the jail cell that housed Nelson Mandela for so many years brings to heart the emotional story of the South African struggle for democracy and equality.
The Apartheid Museum focuses on the system of racial discrimination that became synonymous with South Africa from 1948-1994. The Apartheid Museum, close to downtown Johannesburg, even greets visitors with a very real reflection of what it was like to live in a racially segregated society.
To give a true overview of Nelson Mandela in all phases of his life, from his youth in Qunu to his role as statesman, the museum built in his honour comprises three separate structures: the Bhunga Building in Mthatha, the Qunu component and an open-air museum at Mvezo, where Madiba was born.
If you would like more detailed information about the places and events that are so historically important please download the Madiba’s Journey app on the Apple iStore or Android App Store and explore more.