If you find yourself in Madiba's birth province of the Eastern Cape, you're fortunate to be able to tap into the Nelson Mandela Centenary Tourism Programme in Mthatha, which includes the initiative called ‘Release Mandela Historic Memories’.
As part of the national celebrations there's also a special App that can be downloaded that encourages all to visit Madiba tourist spots in SA, as well as a number of tourism activities that will take place across the country.
Former Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa says "the launch of Historic Memories is part of the conversations that we are opening so that our communities share experiences. We want to take those experiences to our young children in schools and to youth, because Mandela is an inspiration to youth."
Visit Madiba-inspired tourist attractions across South Africa with an App developed to help you locate and explore places that shaped Nelson Mandela’s journey.
Simply find each location on your phone’s mapping system, follow directions to the site and be inspired.
The App provides information on everything you need to know about the sites' operating hours, tours, ticket prices and contact information. It also allows you to create a customised itinerary before embarking on your ventures and also boasts an audio function to immerse yourself in narratives about these sites and their place in South Africa’s history.
Users can also check out the photo galleries, check-in at locations, share their experiences and earn rewards as they visit more locations.
The App developed by SAT aims to encourage tourists to have an "experiential interaction with the sites" that have a connection with Madiba.
Xasa says that these places will range from the well-known Capture Site to the less popular and unknown experiences such as Mandela's favourite restaurant and coffee shop.
ALSO SEE: Celebrating Nelson Mandela's centenary + 3 Madiba sites every South African must visit
“But all will encourage travel and build towards the 5-in 5 strategy,” says Xasa referring to NDT’s plans to bring in 5 million visitors in 5 years.
She says the App and the experiences it offers will “encourage some healthy competition between the provinces, not only for the range of offerings, but for the response from both international and local visitors”.
100 Madiba experiences
SAT will launch a tourism initiative called “What’s your 100 Madiba experiences?”.
“This initiative will promote travel and tourism through Mandela’s Legacy - 100 sites across the country and in all 9 provinces that relate or connect to Nelson Mandela’s legacy will be identified. These will become “must visit” sites during the course of 2018 both for domestic and international visitors,” explains Xasa.
She says that people will be encouraged to visit as many of the top 100 places or experiences that Mandela touched. “They will be asked to share how, by exploring our incredible country, each place and activity can be showcased in remembrance and celebration of his legacy.”
“We need to remind South Africans that we have the democratic right to explore our country, its history and its wonders, as experienced by Mandela,” says Xasa, adding that this campaign will support the existing campaign by the Nelson Mandela Foundation called #BeTheLegacy.
Tourism activities across SA
Xasa's message to South Africans is that the centenary celebrations give us a chance to "relive that history" and "really get back to understanding where we come from".
Here are some of the projects NDT has outlined across the country, as well as additional events in celebration of Madiba, that are set to enhance experiences at these World and National Heritage sites.
Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick, KZN
Just outside Howick in the KZN Midlands is one of the country’s most interesting historical places – the site where Nelson Mandela was captured.
Artist Marco Cianfanelli built the sculpture with 50 steel column constructions between 6.5 metres and 9.5 metres tall. They are aligned to form a portrait of Nelson Mandela and in the background one can see the hills and valleys of the Midlands.
The steel columns are a representation of Mandela’s imprisonment where he was captured in 1962 before he was sent to Robben Island. Visitors can also stroll through the museum at the site.
KZN Province is presently working with COGTA and Umgeni Local Municipality to invest “R57million in an Interpretation and Multipurpose Centre at the site” says Xasa. The Department will in turn, partner with the institutions and contribute R12million to complete the Centre.
Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018, KZN
At Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018 in Durban, Nelson Mandela’s centenary will be celebrated with a series of installations and events at the show.
ALSO SEE: #Indaba2018: 19 African countries set to boost tourism and its economies
Partnership with Robben Island, Western Cape
Nelson Mandela and many other political activists were imprisoned on this island off the Western Cape coast, which is now a World Heritage site and museum. It reminds South Africans about the country's difficult past and the price these struggle heroes paid for our freedom.
NDT has committed R10million towards destination enhancement. “The project involves digitisation of heritage archive of Robben Island, links to the creative industry through partnership with local artists and crafters and conversion of buildings for alternative usage,” says Xasa.
Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture
Former US president Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg on 17 July 2018 - a day before Nelson Mandela International Day.
The lecture's theme will be "Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World", and will also honour the centennial of Madiba's birth.
"The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will focus on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality," says a joint statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Obama Foundation.
The Peoples Park Project at Constitution Hill, Gauteng
SA’s Constitution turns 21 this year, and NDT will create “the People’s Park” at Constitution Hill Precinct which will include the construction of an open park space, children’s playground, high street retail amenities, construction of pedestrian routes, public open spaces connecting the surrounding community to the constitutional court, as well as the creation of wheelchair friendly bridges and pathways, sensory paths for blind visitors and upgrades to the lifts which provide universal access.
“The department will contribute R14million towards this project,” says Xasa.
The Living the Legacy Exhibition, Gauteng
Xasa says that this is a new project for NDT’s consideration among the list of planned Mandela Centenary projects.
“The project involves an interactive, experiential exhibition which will allow all visitors to access the political history and heritage of the liberation struggle that led to the ultimate end of Apartheid. This exhibition raises awareness of human rights, access for all and transformation. As a living heritage exhibition, it allows all visitors to contemplate the legacy of Madiba and ordinary South Africans who opposed the injustices of the past,” says Xasa.
The exhibition will be launched in 2018 and will run for two years at Moropeng in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Xasa says that NDT has been requested to partner with Maropeng on this project with a contribution of R15million.
The Mandela Presidential Centre, Gauteng
This project, a "presidential 5-7 star tourism product" expected to be ready for business in 2019, will see the conversion of Nelson Mandela’s primary residence into a place of scholarship and reflection. The aim is to create an avenue that will provide visitors with additional insights into the Mandela Heritage.
The project will offer an experience inspired by Madiba's life while he resided and worked at the property, and “create a special retreat and reflection hotel".
Projects in Eastern Cape
With Eastern Cape being the birth province of the Madiba, a number of events will take place in the coastal province.
Xasa announced that the NDT's programmes aligned to the centenary celebration include hosting the annual World Tourism Day Celebrations by the Eastern Cape provincial government on 27 September 2018.
"We plan to change this place [Eastern Cape] in honour of Nelson Mandela," she says, adding that a number of tourism drives will be happening in the province such as a pilot shark cage diving project at Port St Johns. Here is what's in store:
Cradock 4 Garden of Remembrance
“The Cradock 4 Garden of Remembrance (Phase 2) is a R28million EPWP construction project implemented in memory of the Cradock 4 anti-apartheid activists,” says Xasa, adding that the NDT has completed this project and will hand it over to the local municipality that will run the facility until a suitable operator is identified to manage it.
Coastal and Marine Tourism
NDT’s Coastal and Marine Tourism (CTM) Implementation Plan seeks to grow a world class sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination “that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture and heritage”, says Xasa.
Three initiatives that form part of this plan are Blue Flag Beaches programme, boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving, as well as off-road vehicle 4x4 beach driving.
“These projects will be taken forward in the first phase implementation plan,” says Xasa, adding that six nodes have been identified for the first phase (0-5 years), with 2 of these located in the Eastern Cape at Port St Johns to Coffee Bay, and East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds.
Eastern Cape 6-day Hiking Trail
The 2018 launch of the Eastern Cape 6-day Hiking Trail from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay is also proposed as a Mandela Centenary Project. The R9million project is located in the Port St John Local Municipality, and will provide ablution facilities and huts for overnight accommodation.
Revitalise Coffee Bay
“The partnership with CATHSSETA towards the Eastern Cape Development Projects, at the King Sabata Dalindyebo is a project in support of government’s initiative to revitalise Coffee Bay into a fully-fledged economic hub utilising tourism as a catalyst for economic development, aimed at revamping the Coffee Bay hotel,” says Xasa.
The aim is to bring state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet world-class standards, for an industrial kitchen that will be used to train the chefs and to implement other hospitality related programmes.