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Mandela Capture Site

Updated on May 3, 2017

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

— Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

The Mandela Sculpture

The Sculpture at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site
The Sculpture at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site | Source

Why is the Mandela Capture Site Historically Important?

It was on this stretch of road on the 5th August in 1962 that Nelson Mandela was arrested. It was the last time he would be a free man until his release from prison in 1992.

It was the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela that ended up becoming a rallying point for anti-apartheid activists all over the world. Although a number of other activists were also imprisoned, the world warmed to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and cried out against the injustice of imprisoning a man for twenty-seven years.

It can be said that by imprisoning Madiba, the apartheid government made him infinitely more powerful - I believe that his imprisonment directly led to the downfall of apartheid in South Africa.

Get to the Right Spot to See the Face

If you are not standing in the right spot, you won't get the whole picture.
If you are not standing in the right spot, you won't get the whole picture.

Why is the Mandela Capture Site is Worth a Visit

The museum building is currently closed because it is being upgraded. It is said that these renovations will be completed by the end of August 2016. You can still visit the sculpture, you just need to enter at the first parking lot on the left, rather than the main parking lot.

The museum is interesting to visit but the real star of the show is the sculpture - a collaborative effort between Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose. It consists of 50 steel columns significantly acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the capture of Nelson Mandela.

it is made up of 50 steel columns which vary in height from 6 metres to 9.5 metres.

The real beauty of the sculpture lies in the fact that you can only see the picture if you are standing in the right spot - in fact, the sculpture caused a lot of consternation amongst locals, myself included, who just couldn't see "The Face" because we all looked from the road.

The optimal spot is about 35 metres from the sculpture and is marked by the inaugural plaque.

The site was inaugurated in August of 2012 by President Jacob Zuma

There is also a delightful restaurant on site and several little shops selling souvenirs and locally-produced crafts.


The Sculpture Plaque

The official plaque at the foot of the sculpture
The official plaque at the foot of the sculpture

What Madiba Meant to Me

When I was growing up in South Africa, the ANC was still classified as a "terrorist organization". We had bomb drills at school and I remember often being kept at home by my mom on June 16th - the anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.

Aside from that, growing up I didn't really know much about Madiba at all. It was really only at his release in 1992 that I actually first saw a picture of him. I still remember us watching Tata walking out of Diepkloof prison. For most white South Africans, it was a day that we were dreading - there was a lot of concern that the country would fall into a civil war.

Then we actually started to get to know Tata - this "dangerous" terrorist, who had been imprisoned for 27 years, came out of prison without any trace of bitterness. He addressed a gathering of youth and told them to take their pangas, knives, and guns and to throw them into the sea.

But where we really started to know Tata was when he became president - it quickly became clear that he wanted peace and reconciliation for all South Africans. He worked tirelessly to rescue the economy and to improve the living conditions of the poor.

He said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

He had an especially soft spot for children. In fact, in an act unprecedented and not repeated since, he donated half of his salary as president to the Nelson Mandela Children's fund.

For me, Madiba was an inspiration - almost a living saint - even though he referred to himself as a sinner. Not a hint of scandal ever reached this man and he really led by example. It is an example that I would hope to live up to but do not think that I could ever completely match - what an exceptional life.

Reading "The Long Walk to Freedom", written by the man himself, is a great way to get to know the man. It portrays a humble but deeply wise man. A man that held that the dignity of each person is an integral human right - not a luxury.

My favorite part of the book was the early section where he talked about growing up in Qunu. His granddaughter said, at his funeral, that the family would miss his stories about his childhood and, having read the book, I can see why. He was a great storyteller.


Get your own copy of "A Long Walk to Freedom" here

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Reaching for the Sky

There are 50 of these uprights - one for every year between Mandela's capture and the building of this monument.
There are 50 of these uprights - one for every year between Mandela's capture and the building of this monument. | Source

Tour of the Site

The old museum building was the first stop on the journey. The tin building has been demolished and a new building has been erected. It will be completed at the end of August 2016.
The old museum building was the first stop on the journey. The tin building has been demolished and a new building has been erected. It will be completed at the end of August 2016.
Source
Looking back up at the Long Walk to Freedom
Looking back up at the Long Walk to Freedom

Where in the world is the Mandela Monument?

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

— Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

South Africans Mourn the Death of Nelson Mandela

There has never, in the history of the world, been such an outpouring of grief. Not since Princess Diana died has the world grieved as much. South Africans have been leaving tributes at Madiba's old Soweto home and at various sites across the country.

Books for messages of condolence have been set up in various locations - municipal offices, historical sites, and even at various supermarkets and businesses around the country.

People have taken great comfort in being able to say goodbye to one of their heroes and have left a lot of touching messages.

The basic feeling at the moment in South Africa, on this day of Madiba's funeral, is one of sadness. At the same time, it is a celebration of a life well lived, a full life and one that made a global impact.

We will never forget you, Tata.

South Africans pay Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Books like this were in place all over the country.
Books like this were in place all over the country.
tributes started coming in on the 6th December and continued to pour in even up to the day of the funeral.
tributes started coming in on the 6th December and continued to pour in even up to the day of the funeral.
Madiba touched many lives
Madiba touched many lives
The big screen brought in to allow people at the monument watch the Memorial and Funeral services
The big screen brought in to allow people at the monument watch the Memorial and Funeral services
Mandela had an especial soft spot for children.
Mandela had an especial soft spot for children.
Paper tributes and personal tributes kept coming in.
Paper tributes and personal tributes kept coming in.
South Africans were  all coming together in their grief
South Africans were all coming together in their grief

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

— Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

The Old and New Monuments for the Mandela Capture Site

The original monument at the capture site was across the road and was fairly small and insignificant. I remember seeing it the first time and thinking, "Is that all there is to it?"

The new Site is a lot more of a proper tribute. The sculpture is the largest of its type in South Africa and you can actually embark on your own "Long Walk to Freedom."

There are also facilities on hand at the new site.

The new Capture Site is in the process of some exciting developments - An amphitheatre and multi-purpose theatre, as well as a craft hub, is planned - all will help boost the local economy and provide work, in line with Madiba's goals for the country.


The Old Monument

The original Capture Site Monument was deemed too small and will be demolished eventually
The original Capture Site Monument was deemed too small and will be demolished eventually
The original monument is across the road from the sculpture.
The original monument is across the road from the sculpture.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

— Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

The Monument got Busier Throughout the Day

Click thumbnail to view full-size
People kept coming until late in the afternoon - to the old and new monuments. Thousands visited the monument throughout the dayStanding room only.Lots on the "Long Walk to Freedom"
People kept coming until late in the afternoon - to the old and new monuments.
People kept coming until late in the afternoon - to the old and new monuments.
Thousands visited the monument throughout the day
Thousands visited the monument throughout the day
Standing room only.
Standing room only.
Lots on the "Long Walk to Freedom"
Lots on the "Long Walk to Freedom"

Rate the Mandela Capture Site

4.5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of The Nelson Mandela Capture Site as a Tourist Site

What does Madiba mean to you?

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  • Pearldiver profile image

    Rob Welsh 24 months ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

    Invictus was a terrible film it was about you guys beating us guys... Very informative work, I enjoyed it greatly, having also written a tribute to Nelson on another site. Well done Fiona... take care Rob

  • poetryman6969 profile image

    poetryman6969 2 years ago

    Love the sculpture. Very creative.

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Thanks SweetiePie

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 3 years ago from Southern California, USA

    This hub is a beautiful and touching tribute to Nelson Mandela. I shared it .

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Thank you Torrilynn, he meant a great deal to many South Africans so it is nice to be able to convey some of that to others. I also found that it was quite cathartic in a way - my heart was very sore when Tata died.

  • torrilynn profile image

    torrilynn 3 years ago

    this was a sculpture fitted especially for Mandela. your hub helped me to learn more about who he was and what he meant to you and others. shared with others.

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Thanks cclitgirl - glad you also like the photos - I love photography, if I could figure out a way to make a living from it, I would :)

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 3 years ago from Western NC

    What a beautiful hub! I love your homage and contribution to one of the world's greatest leaders.

    Your photos are especially beautiful to see!

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Thank you WriterFox. With the TV coverage that we had here during the official mourning period, we also learned a lot more about him. This is one of my favourite sculptures of Tata.

  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

    This is a magnificent sculpture and tribute to Mandela. I've never seen a picture of this before so I'm glad I found your article. With his death this week, I know that many people are just learning about the valuable contributions he made in his lifetime. Voted up!

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Dear Jeanetter - yes, I did. I love photography and feel it is better to use my own photos as far as possible.

  • profile image

    jeanetter 3 years ago

    Thanks for all the personal pix - did you take them yourself?

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Thank you Nadine

  • Nadine May profile image

    Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    What an excellent article and Tribute on Nelson Mandela. that was indeed well done.

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Dear MsDora

    Thank you for your feedback - I have always thought the monument was awesome - we are currently watching the unveiling of a new statue to Tata at the Union buildings - I am very interested to see what it looks like, it is 9m high.

  • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image
    Author

    Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

    Dear Billybuc

    Thank you for your feedback - I did a lot of work on this hub because Madiba was one of my personal heroes and I have learned a lot from him. He was a fantastic person and an example to us all.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    What a beautiful sculpture that is for a beautiful human being. Adding your own reflections made this article that much more powerful. Well done!

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    A beautiful tribute to the Mandela. The monument is very interesting. I can see the ace very clearly in the very first picture. Happy to see that that these monuments in his honor will keep his memory alive all over the world. Those of you who were so close to him are very fortunate.

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