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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
The Madiba Trail is a route that follows the life of Nelson Mandela and spans 4 provinces in South Africa. The word Madiba is Nelson Mandela’s Xhosa clan name and adopted by his adoring public as an affectionate moniker.
The trail begins in the Eastern Province town of King William’s Town, and although Mandela never lived here, a stop-in at the Amathole Museum is a good starting point to learn of the Xhosa culture. From here, the route continues north to Mthatha to visit the Nelson Mandela Museum which includes a beautifully designed photo display of Mandela’s life and an array of personal items, followed by a trip to the Community Museum and Youth & Heritage Centre in Qunu where visitors can experience some of his childhood, namely his old school – now in ruin, the family graveyard and the church where he was baptised.
Next stop on the journey is the Nelson Mandela Yard Interpretation Centre in Alexandria Township, Johannesburg, and the opportunity to step into the tiny one-roomed house he lived in that has been declared a national heritage site. The trail continues to Soweto and Vilakazi Street where Mandela bought his first house and where his children were born. Chancellor House in Johannesburg city is next on the itinerary and from where Mandela and his good friend Oliver Tambo operated their successful law practice. Other stops include Constitution Hill where Mandela was held at the old fort and years later, assisted in drawing up the country’s constitution; the Apartheid Museum; Liliesleaf Farm where secret meetings were held and top ANC members arrested; and a visit to the 6-high bronze statue of Mandela in Sandton.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the trail takes in the Capture Site where Mandela was apprehended in 1962 and was to be his last day of freedom before spending the next 27 years in jail.
The final stop is in Cape Town and Robben Island where Mandela was to remain behind bars for 18 of his 27 year incarceration. To cap this mammoth trail off nicely, a visit to the Grand Parade is worthwhile to see where Nelson Mandela made his historic speech to the world after his release in 1990.
Please note that South Africa is a vast country and this trail extends for thousands of kilometres. Some time is required to complete the trail and it’s suggested that flights be taken between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and between Gauteng and the Western Cape. A 4x4 vehicle is recommended for travel into the rural areas around Mthatha.