6 Places To Visit In South Africa This International Mandela Day

July 18 marks Nelson Mandela's birth anniversary, celebrated as International Mandela Day. Explore significant sites in South Africa that commemorate his remarkable contributions and carry on his legacy as the 'Father of the Nation'
6 Places To Visit In South Africa This International Mandela Day
6 Places To Visit In South Africa This International Mandela Day

South Africa is a destination marked by a kaleidoscope of experiences for all kinds of travellers. Whether you like adventures and safaris or enjoy a gourmet food experience, the country has got you covered. From the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town to the vast savannahs of Kruger National Park, South Africa offers abundant experiences for every type of tourist. Immerse yourself in the bustling streets of Johannesburg, where the spirit of Nelson Mandela lingers, or venture along the scenic Garden Route, a picturesque stretch of coastline dotted with charming towns and breathtaking vistas. 

July 18 is a pivotal day for the country as it is the birth anniversary of Nelson Mandela. Often referred to as 'Madiba' or fondly 'Father of the Nation', Mandela played an extensive role in South Africa's freedom struggle, and each year in his honour, July 18 is celebrated as International Mandela Day. If you are in the country during this time, here are some places you can visit that serve as reminders of Madiba's extraordinary contributions and carry Madiba's legacy. 

Liliesleaf, Rivonia 

In the tranquil suburb of Rivonia, just outside Johannesburg, lies Liliesleaf, an unassuming residence with a profound history. During the tumultuous era of the anti-apartheid movement, Liliesleaf served as a secret meeting place and hideout for members of the African National Congress (ANC). Notably, it provided sanctuary for none other than Mandela himself, who disguised himself as a gardener while evading the watchful eyes of the police. However, the tranquillity was shattered on July 11, 1963, when the residence was raided, resulting in the arrest of Mandela and numerous ANC members on charges of conspiring against the apartheid government. The riveting trial that followed, known as the Rivonia Trial, forever altered the course of South Africa and laid the groundwork for the eventual dismantling of apartheid.

Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg 

This remarkable institution vividly portrays the struggle against adversity and oppression, transporting visitors to the very heart of the apartheid era. Through thought-provoking exhibits and immersive storytelling, the museum educates on the experiences endured by South Africans. It offers a glimmer of hope and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. The museum is open throughout the week from 9 am to 5 pm.

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick  

Located in Howick, the Nelson Mandela Capture Site holds profound historical significance. At this very spot on August 5, 1962, Mandela was captured after a 17-month pursuit by the authorities for his anti-apartheid activism. Today, the site stands as a powerful symbol of the country's freedom struggle. A magnificent sculpture crafted from 50 steel rods graces the location, forming a striking portrait of Mandela. This awe-inspiring artwork, created using the innovative technique of laser-cut metal beams, stands as the largest in South Africa, commemorating a pivotal moment that forever shaped the nation's destiny.

Robben Island, Cape Town 

Once a leper colony and a military base, Robben Island bears witness to the immense challenges that Mandela and countless others faced. Situated off the coast of Cape Town, this island served as a place of imprisonment for Mandela for 18 gruelling years. Today, Robben Island stands as a World Heritage site and a living museum, providing a profound insight into the struggles endured by political prisoners. Visitors can embark on a 45-minute ferry ride from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, traversing the waters to the island, and learn about its historical significance.

Groot Drakenstein Prison 

Formerly known as Victor Verster Prison, Groot Drakenstein correctional facility holds immense historical significance. It was within these walls that Mandela spent his final 14 months of imprisonment, a total of 27 years behind bars. Stepping through the gates of this prison in 1990, Mandela emerged as a free man, marking a monumental moment in the country's history. Today, a larger-than-life bronze statue stands at this poignant site, capturing Mandela's iconic raised fist, a symbol of defiance and freedom. Groot Drakenstein Prison stands amidst picturesque grape vines and rolling hills between Paarl and Franschhoek.

Union Buildings, Pretoria  

Perched majestically atop the highest point of South Africa's capital city, Pretoria, the Union Buildings embody a rich historical and symbolic legacy. Designed by the renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker in 1908, these impressive structures stand as an architectural marvel. A dedicated team of 1,265 artisans, workmen, and labourers took nearly three years to bring this grand vision to life. The Union Buildings hold a special place in the hearts of South Africans, as it was on this site that Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first democratically elected president in 1994. Inside, there is a towering bronze sculpture of Mandela.

Cover photo Nelson Mandela statue at Union Building in Pretoria. Credit Shutterstock

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