Nelson Mandela’s legacy will be richly celebrated in his centenary year in 2018. In honour of Madiba, national government, industries and the Nelson Mandela Foundation – among other organisations – will host a number of events as part of his centenary celebration.
With Mandela Day around the corner, and to join in the centenary celebrations, you can gain some knowledge about SA’s history and Madiba’s legacy at one of the many museums around the country that are dedicated to SA’s ‘Father of the Nation’.
You can also find museums dedicated to Madiba using South African Tourism’s (SAT) special mobile App called Madiba’s Journey. The App, which can be downloaded on Android or Apple devices, encourages all South Africans to experience Madiba’s legacy at 100 destinations across the country. Click here for more information.
Here are museums you can visit across the country in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island is a glass museum with exhibition areas, an auditorium and a museum shop. It links the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island Museum with a passenger ferry terminal.
A lesser-known historical gem at the V&A Waterfront, this museum marks the departure point for Robben Island tours.
Jetty One Museum, a national monument separate from the Robben Island Exhibition and Information Centre, used to be a departure and arrival point for prisoners, wardens or Robben Island prison staff. Learn more about the history of Robben Island at this museum that used to be a prison.
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.
It’s one of the most iconic spots in SA’s history and large crowds of tourists usual flock to the site – so best buy your ticket beforehand if you decide to visit, and check the weather forecast first as trips to the island are weather-dependent.
This museum has three parts – Bhunga Building in Mthatha, the museum in Qunu and the open-air museum in Mvezo where Madiba was born. To visit Mvezo, one needs permission from the chief of the area, which can be arranged through the Museum.
Learn about Madiba’s legacy at the museum which shares insight on all phases of his life – from his youth in Qunu to becoming SA’s president.
Not only is this museum of historic significance, but it provides a fascinating cultural experience through tours that can arranged through the museum.
It includes visits to the remains of Madiba’s primary school, pastures where he roamed as a shepherd, his original home in Qunu, engaging in traditional activities and games, and hikes through the village and surrounding area, among others. Click here to see the full list of activities.
Dedicated to the 67 years that Mandela spent on Robben Island, this outdoor museum trails through Port Elizabeth’s inner city with Madiba’s quotes engraved along the route. It starts at the newly renovated Campanile building where a colonial heritage site is and includes street art, heritage buildings and commemorates other pivotal points in the history of the struggle.
It’s free to walk but you can book a guided tour that will provide more details on the route and what each piece represents.
Delve into South African art and culture at this museum just a few minutes away from the Voting Line Sculpture and Route 67 – iconic Madiba sites in Port Elizabeth.
This art museum houses a collection of South African art and craft – specialising in the art of the Eastern Cape, as well as British and Oriental art and international printmaking. SAT says that even the entrance to the museum at St George’s Park “is a piece of art” created by Mother Nature.
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 and craft shops at the site, and have a bite to eat at the café.
The Luthuli Museum in Groutville, KwaDukuza, includes Chief Albert Luthuli’s home from 1927 surrounded by a landscaped garden.
Captured interactions between Luthuli and Mandela form part of the exhibits at this museum which also includes Luthuli’s love for soccer and a focus on xenophobia. Admission to the museum is free.
Once the home of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela in Soweto, it is now a centre for the preservation of the family’s history and promoting the ideals of South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
The Mandela family lived here from 1946 until the 1990s and was eventually declared a national monument. A tour of the house takes about 20 minutes and R40 entrance for African Union citizens.
Constitution Hill is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past and, today, is home to the country’s Constitutional Court.
The Mandela Presidential Centre
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”.