Cape Town - The twists and turns of Nelson Mandela’s path to freedom trace a tangled web across South Africa. Now tourists will have a detailed guide to the long trek, commemorating the legacy of the first president of a democratic nation.
At Mandela’s house at Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) on Tuesday, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk unveiled a new graphic rendering of Mandela’s life. A map marked with 27 key locations distinguishes between “must-visit places” and places of interest linked to Mandela’s life”.
Drakenstein appears as point 23 on the route. Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and the site where Mandela was captured in 1962 also fit in on the journey. The Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu pays tribute to Mandela’s childhood.
Chief executive of South African Tourism Thulani Nzima said he hoped the map would inspire deeper connections with Mandela’s legacy.
“What we are hoping to do is to get South Africans to begin to embrace those tourist attractions like they are their own, but also we are building a pilgrimage around this. We want the international community and South Africans to look at this in the same way they would look at a pilgrimage to Mecca. Not necessarily at the same level, but we are confident that with time people are going to see it as a pilgrimage, as a must-do kind of thing.”
Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said the map was the first phase of a larger project to involve the international community in the South African journey that Mandela’s path represents.
“I think if anything should be achieved of the map it should be for each one of us as we go to those sites to always remind ourselves of Nelson Mandela’s last message… He said it is in your hands to help build a different world. As you go to those sites one needs to then ask oneself, what is my role in terms of building a much more equal society, a caring society.”
Accompanying the map is a booklet. The Madiba’s Journey Traveller’s Passport includes 16 “must-visit” places in Mandela’s journey, with space for tourists to get stamps at each stop.
Van Schalkwyk said this focus on Mandela’s legacy was to infuse South African tourism with deeper meaning.
“If one looks at the tourism industry in this country historically, we’ve done very well marketing our country as basically a safari destination – the wildlife, the landscape. But what we’ve never done very well is to market what our country is also about – that is our culture, our history and our heritage. That is how you must view this product today.” - Cape Argus