Nelson Mandela was a formidable human being, whose work and words left an indelible mark not only on South Africans but also on the rest of the world.
Mandela was a giant with a gentle heart and a passion for his country, and as time goes on, many people have flocked to South Africa, following in the footsteps of the former president and learn more about his life as a lawyer, activist, husband, father and president.
As we celebrate the year Mandela would have turned 100, there are various campaigns for South Africans and international tourists to get a glimpse into the life of the ANC stalwart through some of the national landmarks where Mandela left his legacy.
One of those campaigns is the Mandela Trek, a journey which tourists can take to follow in the footsteps of Mandela, from his humble beginnings to where he spent his last moments.
The trek begins with Mandela’s birthplace in the village of Mvezo and the village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape. Mvezo was where Mandela was born to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, in the Madiba clan.
It is also the home of the Nelson Mandela museum – where tourists can get more information about Mandela’s childhood.
Qunu was where Mandela went to primary school and was given the name ‘Nelson’, before he completed his secondary education at Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Ngcobo which is one hour away from Qunu.
He moved from the Eastern Cape to Gauteng, where after Mandela graduates from the University Of Fort Hare, he meets Walter Sisulu and furthers his education while working at a law firm - Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky – in Johannesburg, which is also where he met his first wife Evelyn Mase in 1944.
Johannesburg was also the city where the first black South African law firm was established by Oliver Tambo and Mandela - Mandela & Tambo in the Chancellor House in present day Ferreriasdorp – in August of 1952, after Mandela became interested and active in politics during the 1940s.
Mandela and Mase first lived in Soweto at 719 in Orlando East, and then in 8115 Vilakazi Street, which is currently the location for the Nelson Mandela House museum.
From Soweto head back to Johannesburg – more specifically Constitutional Hill – where the historical Treason Trial took place in 1956. Twenty-eight people of all races including Mandela were arrested and charged with treason but were later acquitted.
From Constitutional Hill, the trek moves to Lilliesleaf in Rivonia, where Mandela sought refuge with other politicians under the name David Motsamayi but escaped before the historical raid on Lilliesleaf in 1963.
Following in his footsteps travels to Kwa-Zulu Natal, where Mandela was caught and arrested in Howick. Mandela and seven other politicians accused where convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island (now a museum) – which is the next destination of the Mandela trek.
The trek moves from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, where Mandela was transferred to in 1982 with four other ANC activists. Although Pollsmoor is still an active Prison, the house where Mandela stayed is seen as a heritage site and can be viewed by tourists.
From Pollsmoor prison, he headed to Cape Town City Hall where Mandela made his first speech after his release from prison in 1990.
The trek heads back to the Kwa-Zulu Natal where Mandela made his first vote for the 1994 democratic elections, at Ohlange High School in Inanda. From Kwa-Zulu Natal, the trek heads back to Houghton, Gauteng, where Nelson Mandela resides with his third wife – Graca Machel.
After his term as president ended, Mandela continued to reside in Houghton, which is where the trek of Nelson Mandela ends.IOL