Cultural experiences


Map to help travellers 'walk in Mandela's footsteps'

The Department of Tourism has launched a travel map to guide and assist people from around the world who may be looking to visit South Africa to "walk in Nelson Mandela's footsteps".

"To make it as easy as possible for people to personally experience Mandela's story, we have developed the 'Madiba-inspired tourist attractions' map, which encapsulates the key points on his life's journey," Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in March.

He was speaking at the launch of the travel map at Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) in Cape Town - the last place where Nelson Mandela was held captive before he took his first steps to freedom on 11 February 1990.

Developed by South African Tourism in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the map highlights tourist sites as well as general places of interest in the four main provinces that defined Mandela's life.

These include the Eastern Cape, where he was born, grew up and attended Fort Hare University; Gauteng, where he worked as a human rights lawyer and became instrumental in South Africa's political struggle; KwaZulu-Natal, where he was captured; and the Western Cape, where he was imprisoned and ultimately freed.

Since Mandela was released from prison in February 1990, a number of world-class museums, monuments and precincts have been developed to help bring his story to life and to cater for the demand to better understand South Africa's history.

The map includes well-known attractions such as the Unesco world heritage site Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned, and Mandela's house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, which is the only street in the world to have had two Nobel peace prize winners, Mandela and Desmond Tutu, as residents.

It also features some lesser-known attractions, such as the Kliptown open-air museum, also in Soweto, which marks the spot where the Freedom Charter was adopted by the Congress of the People, as well as the Nelson Mandela youth and heritage centre in Mandela's childhood home, Qunu, where he was laid to rest on 15 December.

"Mandela's integrity and spirit of hope, reconciliation and love have touched the lives of millions of people," Van Schalkwyk said on Tuesday. "This year, we celebrate 20 years of democracy and freedom, and we look forward to welcoming many tourists from around the world to share the South African story and Mandela's legacy with us.

"Not only was Nelson Mandela an incredible man and leader, but he remains a truly global icon. Since 1994, visitors from all corners of the globe have come to South Africa to seek out the places that shaped his remarkable life. His name alone put South Africa on the map; today, we are returning the favour in a literal sense."

According to the Department of Tourism, International visitors to the country increased from 3.4-million in 1993 - the year before Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected president - to 13.5-million in 2012, with close to 9.2-million of those being tourists (people who spent one or more nights here).

"The numbers aside, what has perhaps been the greatest legacy for tourism is that Mandela has encouraged people from all corners of the globe to come and experience South Africa for themselves," Van Schalkwyk said.

It was also thanks to Mandela, the minister said, that the world "now knows South Africa for more than just our incredible wildlife, amazing scenic beauty and excellent value for money. Since 1994, the world has come to realise that what really sets this country apart is Mandela's people, whose warmth and hospitality leave all who visit us touched by the 'Madiba magic'."

SAinfo reporter

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