Did you know?
The Nelson Mandela Museum also displays the boxing gloves he used as a young man.
There’s a young professional man on the Mandela Freedom Trail, walking down the corridors of a superb museum in the Eastern Cape town of Mthatha.
Accompanying him, hand in hand, is his 3-year-old son. They stand quietly before the huge expanded images of Madiba – as Nelson Mandela is affectionately known worldwide.
They talk about the time when, after his release, Nelson Mandela was asked why he wore those trademark loose-fitting, colourful shirts and he replied: 'You must remember I was in jail for 27 years. I want to feel freedom.'
The life-size Long Walk to Freedom display at the Nelson Mandela Museum – once the old Transkei parliament building – is a world-class effort.
The 2 wings of the museum are dedicated to describing the world Nelson Mandela grew up in – including the infamous Rivonia Trial after which he ended up on Robben Island – and the lead-up to the democratic elections of 1994.
There is one huge photograph which has a particularly stunning effect: it is of his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, standing isolated on the courthouse steps after his sentencing.
Less than an hour’s drive south is the village of Qunu, where Nelson Mandela grew up. Here, too, is part of the Nelson Mandela Freedom Trail, in the form of a youth and heritage centre named after the great man.
It perches on the ridge of a hill overlooking the village. From here you can see the various stage-points of Mandela’s youth: the rocks he used to slide down, the school he attended, the trading store where he saw his first white person – and the stone church where he was baptised.
Nelson Mandela’s fame has left its mark on his home village. As 1 long-time resident said 'Before Qunu was famous, there was no water, no electricity – and no visitors…'
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Who to contact
Nelson Mandela Museum - Mthatha
Tel: +27 (0) 47 532 5110
Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Center - Qunu
Tel: +27 (0) 47 538 0217
Tel: +27 (83) 487 8975
Fax: +27 (86) 694 0319