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FFormer South African president, Rolihlahla Mandela, was born on 18 July 1918 in a small village in Transkei called Mvezo. Later he was sent to school in the neighbouring village of Qunu where a teacher gave him the name "Nelson".
Madiba, as he was affectionately known, has been called a freedom fighter, a great man, Tata (father of the nation), and a global icon among countless other names. He was known as an activist, served time as a political prisoner, became South Africa's first democratically elected president, an international peacemaker, statesman, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
His incarceration on Robben Island only solidified his role as a leader within the African National Congress (ANC). His arrest was the start of what was to become a 27-year incarceration during which he would become the most famous political prisoner in the world and emerge as the future president of South Africa.
IInitially he was sentenced to five years for leaving the country illegally and incitement, but then came the Rivonia Treason Trial during which he was sentenced to life.
Nelson Mandela Burial Site
MMandela's statement in court at the end of the trial is a classic in the history of the resistance to apartheid, and has been an inspiration to all who have opposed it. He ended with these words: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
On 5 December 2013 at the age of 95, Madiba died at his Houghton home. He was buried on 15 December 2013 at his ancestral home, Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.
For the first time since his funeral, Mandela’s grave will be open to the public to journey to and pay their respects. The unveiling will be aligned with the global icon’s centenary celebrations of his birth this July. The gravesite was previously reserved for family and close friends.
Mandela is a universal symbol of freedom and reconciliation, an icon representing the triumph of the human spirit. During his lifetime, he not only dedicated himself to the struggle of the African people, but with his humility and his spirit of forgiveness, he captured hearts and inspired people all over the world.
Visitors to South Africa should make sure they try Xhosa cuisine, whether in its Eastern Cape heartland or anywhere else that offers umngqusho, amasi, ikhowa and other delicacies.
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.
Cata Cultural Village is a traditional Xhosa community that allows visitors to learn all about the local people and their heritage while enjoying the attractions of Eastern Cape province.
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.
The South African oryx – universally called gemsbok by the locals – embodies the spirit of the Kalahari Desert: magnificent to look at, adapted to the heat and aridity, and hard to conquer.