July 18, 2020 marks the 102nd birthday since the born of the South Africa’s most iconic and revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela. This day is observed as International Mandela Day in his memory. Nelson Mandela or affectionally known as Madiba, was born into South Africa’s royal family. An influential political leader who went on to become the first non-white president in South African history, Mandela was at the forefront of the freedom struggle. From serving 27 years in prison to working as a philanthropist, his life was legendary to say the least. The ‘Gandhi of the African continent’ has received, and rightfully so, more than 250 honors including The Nobel Peace Prize and the Bharat Ratna
To mark the occasion, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory – dedicated to keeping the memory and legacy of Mandela alive, curated an exclusive virtual museum experience . This centre also holds books and artifacts celebrating Madiba, and houses the auditorium from which Nelson Mandela announced his retirement.
The guided exhibition tour begins with an introduction by Mr. Sello Hatang, the CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation, and takes place in the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory situated in Houghton, Johannesburg. The tour highlights certain rarely seen pieces from the archives, placing them in the context of Mandela’s life and enabling virtual visitors an intimate peek into his journey.
The exhibit is organized by different phases of Mandela’s life, and includes his early life, prison years, presidential term and retirement. Virtual visitors browsing through various sections can expect to find the earliest known photograph of Mandela, scans of the desk calendars where he scribbled notes during his 27 years in prison, and handwritten notes he sent his daughters – including one written shortly after the arrest of their mother.
The exhibition also offers a perspective on Mandela’s life within the contexts of colonialism, apartheid and democracy. It contains a behind the scene tour of the archive repository and of the facility itself. From the membership cards of the Sunday school that Nelson Mandela attended, to photographs of Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape where he was born, the tour talks audiences through his life.
From the rolling hills and scattered villages of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, to reverent reflections in the prison cells of Robben Island, to the sacred sidewalk on Vilakazi Street in Soweto South Africa offers a chance to follow in the footsteps to freedom of the nation’s most iconic hero -Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Nelson Mandela spent 18 immensely challenging years in prison on this little island situated off the coast of Cape Town and yet emerged from it filled with forgiveness instead of hatred. Robben Island is now a World Heritage site and museum. Although from the 17th to the 20th century the island was a place of imprisonment — today it is a beacon of hope and a place where visitors can gain some insight into the life and times of Nelson Mandela and fellow freedom fighters.
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