KZN’s Freedom Route: Into the heart of a freedom fighter

2019-04-21 12:30 - Selene Brophy
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South Africa's history has a notoriously, checkered past.

But taking a walk through our historical sites and sounds, soaking up the aspects that shaped the blueprint of key struggle icons such as Ghandi or John Dube, somehow unshackles you from the past and helps you envision a better future.

The saying, "One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter" sure does hit home. In the case of oppression and violence, terrorism is never acceptable. Yet at the heart of South Africa’s apartheid struggle was the core message of freedom.

And peace.

As detailed in the Freedom Charter, South African History states the charter became the "common programme enshrining the hopes and aspirations of all the progressive people of South Africa".

If you’re wanting to truly understand SA’s stalwart struggle icons, do yourself a favour and explore KwaZulu-Natal's Freedom Route.

From Inanada, Phoenix, Durban and Pietermaritzburg – you’ll find yourself face to face with statues of Madiba, John Dube and even the global freedom fighter Ghandi who set about his movement of passive resistance right here in SA.

Forming a large part of this Freedom Route is the Inanda Heritage Tour

  • Gandhi Settlement, Phoenix

This is where Mahatma Gandhi spent his formative years in SA and developed his philosophy of Satyagraha – a deep-seated ideology of peaceful resistance to political injustices.

According to Durban Tourism Officer Bongani Mthembu, the original Phoenix settlement in iNanda was inspired by Gandhi, encapsulating his vision for a community based on self-reliance.

Today it is a throbbing part of greater Durban and a worthwhile tour to understand the intricacies of what Gahndi stood for as well as the people who played a key role in his life.

April is Freedom Month in South Africa, culminatin
April is Freedom Month in South Africa, culminatin
(Photos: Selene Brophy)

  • Ohlange High School

This spot is quite something special. Not only is it where John Dube, the first president of the ANC, lived but it is also where Mandela chose to cast his vote in SA's first democratic elections in 1994.

The space resonates with those wanting to get to grips with the very beginnings of apartheid emancipation in South Africa. 

Durban Tourism Office Mandla Nxumalo shared how he worked with Independent Electoral Commission at the time, as an elections official and oversaw Madiba’s first vote. Nxumalo is colourful and energetic in his recollection of the marked moment in history. Watch the video above to see what I mean.

Overall, Mandela decided to vote at the polling station in Ohlange to encourage “all South Africans, especially black South Africans to have the confidence to vote”.

Knowing that it was resting place of the late Dube, Madiba felt it was poignant to honour him this way, as well as the many others who had sacrificed for peaceful democracy in our country.

READ: 10 Ways to celebrate Freedom Day in SA

April is Freedom Month in South Africa, culminatin

(Photo: Selene Brophy)

Luthuli Museum  

Human Rights visionary Chief Albert Luthuli was the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent stance in the fight for liberation.  

Get in touch with part of who he was by experiencing this museum set in his former home. It features significant belongings and photographic records of his humanitarian work.

Cato Manor informal settlement

On the outskirts of Durban you’ll find the inter-cultural blend of Indian and African dwellings. Once home to noteworthy South Africans such as late musician Sipho Gumede and President Jacob Zuma, the area has overcome the riots of 1949 and 1959 and subsequent squatter status to become an integrated community.

READ: Quick Guide to Madiba's long walk to freedom: A moment in Pretoria

Howick Capture site

Take a day-trip to the spot where the late Nelson Mandela was arrested on 5 August 1962 – this was the catalyst for a series of trials, culminating in the Rivonia Treason Trial that would ultimately see him spend 27 years in prison.

It now features the famours Capture Site sculptured made up of 50 steel poles, erected in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of his capture. 

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