South Africa Eastern Cape


Birthplace of Nelson Mandela, rural village in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, known for its rolling hills and traditional Xhosa culture.

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This village near Umthatha in the Eastern Cape is where Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela grew up and by his own admission, had the happiest days of his childhood tending the family’s cattle and partaking in games and other typical rural activities.  Few places give one insight into a person’s life as the place they grew up, especially if he was so happy there that he also chose it as his retirement and final resting place. There are two attractions here and figuring out which is which can be a little tricky.  The first is the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, literally a few metres away from his childhood home where many of his direct relatives, members of the Madiba clan, still reside.  It still consists very much of consistence farmers and huts and for this reason the museum serves not only as a historical establishment, but also one that seeks to equip the community through tourism. In the words of Mandela himself,  it’s a “a living museum….. that embraces development and inspires people through education, culture and tourism.”   The centre offers a tour through the village, as well as programmes where youths can experience the way Mandela and his peers grew up.  Unfortunately, it is closed for renovations at the moment, but keep checking into the site to see whether it is open at the time of your visit.  Admission is free and the visit should take between 1 and 3 hours. The other part is the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umthatha, a town roughly 30 kilometres away from the Qunu village.  I’ve personally spent many a road trip through the town and the road is notorious for its poor condition and prevalence of cattle crossing or being herded across the road in their beautiful, unhurried nature.  Though it poses a great risk to drivers unaware of the possibility of such a meeting, it gives you an idea of the simplicity and natural splendour of the farm life Madiba must have loved.

BelindaFourie 3 years ago

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