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TTo give a true overview of Nelson Mandela in all phases of his life, from his youth in Qunu to his role as statesman, the museum built in his honour comprises three separate structures: the Bhunga Building in Mthatha, the Qunu component and an open-air museum at Mvezo, where Madiba was born.
The Nelson Mandela Museum is situated on the N2 highway in Mthatha in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. It promises visitors a memorable cultural experience and insight into the life of Nelson Mandela, with guided tours and a heritage trail that follows the story of his life.
TThe historic Bhunga (translated loosely as council or caucus) building accommodates an exhibition tracing Nelson Mandela’s journey, as told in his own words, and narrated in part from his acclaimed biography A Long Walk to Freedom. It also showcases a diverse selection of the gifts bestowed on South Africa’s most-beloved statesman, Madiba, during his presidency.
The Nelson Mandela Museum
FFrom here visitors can visit Mvezo, Mandela's rural birthplace, to gain an understanding of his humble beginnings. Born into a chiefly lineage within the Tembu people, his inkaba (umbilical cord) is buried here in accordance with Xhosa tradition, and it is where his father was stripped of his authority by the apartheid government and forced to flee while Mandela was still an infant.
FFrom there he proceeds to Qunu, where his family took refuge and he spent his childhood. Here he assumed a Christian name, Nelson, in place of his Xhosa name Rolihlahla (which means shaking the branches of a tree, or trouble maker), as was the custom at the missionary-run school he attended. He spent his boyhood here diligently doing herd-boy duties and playing in the river.
The Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre is located at Qunu and comprises the second component of the Nelson Mandela Museum. This unusual heritage tour allows visitors to ‘meet’ Madiba the man, activist, father, liberation struggle hero and former president.
Home to glorious stretches of beaches, mountainous terrains, jaw-dropping rock formations, a rich catalogue of plant and wildlife which includes the Big 7 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, Southern Right whales and Great White sharks), South Africa’s Eastern Cape province is also the birth place of the late global icon and humanitarian - Nelson Mandela. The acclaimed leader, whose birthday is celebrated globally through acts of kindness on 18 July, was born and raised amongst this province’s lush valleys and winding rivers.
Cultural villages and museums in South Africa are great places to learn more about Xhosa traditions and how these express the culture and beliefs of this ancient Eastern Cape people.
South Africans are a diverse mix of peoples from Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, and the many museums scattered around the country preserve rich histories, heritages and cultural traditions.
The ‘Wildlife Route’ from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown/Makhanda in Eastern Cape offers a journey through European/Xhosa frontier history, exquisite birds, elephants and scenery, and delicious food.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, boasts a diverse collection ranging from European and Asian art to many local pieces reflecting South Africa’s cultures.
Xhosa culture remains as strong, colourful and enchanting as ever among the approximately 7-million Xhosa people.
Xhosa beadwork carries special cultural significance and can be seen and purchased in several places around South Africa.
Take a drive from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth and explore the pubs, beaches, restaurants and seaside adventures that come with one of South Africa’s top coastal areas.