2018 is a momentous year for South Africa with the Nelson Mandela Centenary marking what would have been 100 years since the iconic leader’s birth.
Officially July 18, 2018 – Mandela Day – marks this historic milestone as throughout the nation, and across the world, people celebrate South Africa’s first black President who was an inspirational anti-apartheid revolutionary and one of the greatest human rights advocates the world has ever seen. This year, South African Tourism invites US travelers to explore his legacy.
In Mandela’s honor, national celebrations will see a series of high-profile events and memorials. In New York, the One World Trade Center’s spire will be lit with the colors of the South African flag to honor the occasion.
On July 17, a day before Mandela Day, former US president Barack Obama will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. The theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World,” and will honor the centennial of Mandela’s birth.
In other recent news, The Global Citizen Festival will expand from its regular location in New York City to Johannesburg for a special Mandela 100 edition this December, with Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran and Chris Martin as headliners in honor of his legacy.
In Cape Town’s City Hall, a life-sized statue of Madiba will be unveiled on 24th July in the place where he had his first speech upon release from his imprisonment in Robben Island.
Internationally, the world’s largest musical tribute will also take place on Mandela Day through a series of charitable concerts held live across the world in support of improving literacy among poverty- stricken children. This important musical tribute is organized by Mandela Concerts with the goal of raising millions of dollars towards various projects including building 100 new library units in South Africa’s most vulnerable schools, developing a high school skills program, and providing 200 Toddler Trolley library programs for 5 to 6 year-old South African children by 2021.
Travelers interested to follow in Mandela’s footsteps can download Madiba’s Journey app. South African Tourism, in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, recently re-launched the app to include 100 historic landmarks and sites that influenced Mandela’s life. From the Eastern Cape to Johannesburg to Cape Town and beyond, the app allows users to customize their own itineraries and helps guide them through key landmarks, offering context, photos and curated audio narration about Mandela’s life and the 27 years he spent as a political prisoner. A few notable landmarks are highlighted below:
● The Eastern Cape: Explore Nelson Mandela’s birthplace – an area of outstanding rugged beauty with pristine coastline, virgin bush and subtropical forests.
● Robben Island: Tour the jail cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life, through the eyes of those who experienced it first-hand. Many tours are led by ex-political prisoners.
● Constitution Hill in Johannesburg: Formerly used as a prison, it was here where hundreds of political prisoners were held, including Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. Constitution Hill is now a living museum and home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
● The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg: Acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, the museum tells the apartheid story.
● KwaZulu-Natal: Visit this province to see the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. After being on the run for 16 months, Madiba was captured and arrested here in August 1962.
● Voting Line Sculpture in Port Elizabeth: A tribute to the thousands of South Africans who participated in the nation’s first democratic elections in 1994.
South African Tourism encourages travelers to celebrate, honor and explore the legacy of Mandela through Mandela themed travel packages.
To book a Nelson Mandela inspired trip, speak to your travel agent or advisor. As a sample, South African Airways Vacation is currently offering a 10-day Mandela’s Journey to Freedom which gives visitors a first-hand, cultural experience following his footsteps as founding father of the New South Africa. Starts at US $2,999* per person. *Terms and conditions apply*