Remembering Madiba's long walk to freedom

Sunday, February 11, 2018

As the country today marks the 28th anniversary of the release of former President Nelson Mandela from prison, the Department of Tourism says it has kicked off initiatives that will commemorate and celebrate the global icon.

Had he lived, Madiba would be turning 100 years old this year and a series of events to mark the centenary are also lined up.

“The importance of today is [that we are]  reliving the epic moment of our history  by bringing in those who were at the forefront of Mandela’s release, to tell those untold stories that will  inspire our communities,”  said Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa.

On Saturday, the Tourism Department, in collaboration with the National Heritage Council (NHC) and the Nelson Mandela Museum, launched initiatives, celebrating what would have been the former statesman’s 100th birthday in July this year.

At Saturday’s event held in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, some of the surviving members of Mandela’s Reception Committee reflected on the times of that historic day. On 11 February, the then 71-year-old Madiba was released from the Victor Verster prison in Paarl.

The launch of the “Release Mandela Historic Memories” initiative on Saturday saw former political prisoners like Saki Macozoma, Bulelani Ngcuka and Whitey Jacobs, among others, reflecting on that day that eventually led to a democratic South Africa.

Speaking to SAnews, Minister Xasa said the historic memories initiative will not only open up dialogue but help in the building of future leaders.

“We are saying to South Africans that this is a moment when we relive that history for us to really get back to understand where we come from.  We can never therefore take South Africans back into those moments where people were disregarded and treated without dignity. This is the moment to find ourselves to make sure we shape our communities and move together in unity,” said the Minister.

Last year, government announced an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to plan for the celebration of the Mandela centenary.

“We have a whole host of activities planned starting today with the launch of the historic memories. This is part of the conversations that we are opening. On top of that we will be getting out into the rest of the country to identify 100 places that have got connections with Mandela,” explained the Minister.

These sites, she said, would become “must visit” places during the course of 2018 both for domestic and international visitors.

All the provincial tourism authorities have been requested to submit their Mandela travel places or experiences, building on the 27 sites already shared on the SA Tourism Mandela App.

One of Mandela’s grandsons, Ndaba Mandela, has meanwhile urged South Africans remember the late statesman’s contribution to the country’s liberation.

“Unity is key, let us not forget where we South Africans come from. Let us not forget how we were able to win this freedom to succeed in the liberation movement. It was only through the help of our brothers and sisters across the continent of Africa,” said Ndaba.

NHC Council Chairperson Dr JT Mbuli said the agency will continue to support heritage initiatives.

“Today marks 28 years of Mandela walking out of jail. Today also marks the eve of the 18 years of the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Museum, this year would have been 100 years of Mandela’s life. This is a rare opportunity to do something unforgettable,” he said.

Mandela opened the museum on 11 February 2000.  The museum has three sites in Mvezo, Qunu and the Bhunga building in Mthatha.

Centenary projects

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism Coastal and Marine Tourism (CTM) Implementation Plan, approved by Cabinet in 2017, seeks to grow a world class sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage.

Within this, three initiatives have been identified, namely: the Blue Flag Beaches Programme; the Boat Based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving as well as Off Road Vehicle 4x4 Beach Driving.

The projects will be taken forward in the department’s first phase implementation plan.

Six nodes have been identified for the first phase (0-5 years), with 2 of these located in the Eastern Cape, one being Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and the East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds.

Minister Xasa said the launch of the Eastern Cape 6-day Hiking Trail in 2018 is also proposed as a Mandela Centenary Project.  The R9 million nodal project is located in the Port St John local municipality.  The project entails the establishment of a six-day hiking trail from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and will provide, among others, ablution facilities and huts for overnight accommodation. -



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