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1150 St George’s Mall has become one of Cape Town’s main attractions for locals and visitors to the city, with everyone stopping in their tracks to admire this treasured piece of history. A piece of the Berlin Wall was donated to former president Nelson Mandela in 1996, when he visited Germany on a state visit. He received it as a special gift from the city of Berlin before the end of his tenure as president of South Africa.
This important symbol of peace arrived in SA in 1996 when the German ambassador to South Africa organised for the piece to be housed outside the BMW Pavilion at the Waterfront, where it remained until the Pavilion changed hands. It now resides at the Mandela Rhodes Foundation. The piece of wall has been placed outside the Foundation to be viewed.
TThe Berlin Wall stood for 30 years until 9 November 1989, when the leader of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. This announcement signalled a new dawn for the citizens of Germany.
The Berlin Wall
IIt was also during this time when former president of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, announced the unbanning of all anti-apartheid movements, which saw exiled freedom fighters return to South Africa. A month after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, on 13 December, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk met for the first time to discuss the country’s political future. Two months later, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison and South Africa was on the brink of becoming a new, transformed nation. His release sparked much excitement across South Africa and people saw Mandela as their deliverance and beacon of hope. Everyone knew the country was about to undergo massive change. Three decades later, both Germany and South Africa can look back with pride on how they managed to dismantle divisive legacies.
SSince it was dismantled in 1989, several pieces of the Berlin Wall can be found in some unexpected locations around the world such as Seoul (South Korea), Jamaica and in a public men’s restroom of the Main Street Casino in Las Vegas where a piece of this giant concrete slab now serves as a backdrop for a urinal.
The Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.
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