Quick guide to Madiba’s long walk to freedom: Self-reflection in Qunu and Mthatha

The extraordinary legacy of Nelson Mandela - one of the greatest leaders in the world who was affectionately known as Tata or Madiba - will be celebrated in his centenary year in 2018, marking a significant occasion in South Africa.

In honour of Madiba, national government, industries and the Nelson Mandela Foundation - among other organisations - will host a number of events in celebration of his centenary.

SEE: Get your proudly SA #Madiba100 t-shirt and be part of these Mandela centenary celebrations in Mzansi

As part of the centenary celebration, South African Tourism (SAT) launched a special mobile App called Madiba's Journey that can be downloaded on Android or Apple devices, encouraging all South Africans to experience Madiba’s legacy at 100 destinations across the country.

The App was developed to help users locate and explore places that shaped Nelson Mandela’s journey and provides information on the Madiba attractions’ operating hours, tours, ticket prices and contact information. Click here for more information.

With Qunu in the Eastern Cape being the birthplace of the legend, it is only fitting to begin our centenary celebrations with a journey through significant attractions and sites at this small rural village, 32km south-west of Mthatha.

Here’s where you can begin your Madiba journey.

Qunu and surrounds itinerary

A visit to Eastern Cape is incomplete without a trip to Qunu and Mthatha where Madiba was born and has been laid to rest.

Visits to the Nelson Mandela Museum, Youth and Heritage Centre and his burial site are in close proximity, with packaged tours to all three main attractions often linked, and can be explored in a day. You can add each of these places to your itinerary on the Madiba’s Journey App.

Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu and Mthatha

Begin your journey at this Museum which has three parts – Bhunga Building in Mthatha, the museum in Qunu and the open-air museum in Mvezo where Madiba was born. To visit Mvezo, one needs permission from the chief of the area, which can be arranged through the Museum.

Learn about Madiba’s legacy at the museum which shares insight on all phases of his life – from his youth in Qunu to becoming SA’s president.

The Nelson Mandela Centenary Tourism Programme also began in Mthatha in 2018 with the exhibit called ‘Release Mandela Historic Memories’ at the Museum.

Not only is this museum of historic significance, but it provides a fascinating cultural experience through tours that can arranged through the museum.

It includes visits to the remains of Madiba’s primary school, pastures where he roamed as a shepherd, his original home in Qunu, engaging in traditional activities and games, and hikes through the village and surrounding area, among others. Click here to see the full list of activities.

Nelson Mandela Burial Site

After learning about one of the world’s iconic freedom fighters at the Museum, make a stop at the Nelson Mandela Burial Site at his ancestral home in Qunu, and pay your respects to SA’s struggle hero.

The burial site is about 5km from the Museum and can be seen from the viewing deck at the Museum.

Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre

This centre in Qunu is a few hundred metres from the home Madiba built after his release from prison in 1990.

It is built on the ruins of his primary school, and consists of community halls, craft-making buildings, an administration centre, dining hall, a museum, resource centre, restaurant and sports halls. Guided tours of the area are conducted from this centre.