South Africa and Nelson Mandela. Inextricably linked. One of the most diverse and beautiful countries on the planet. One of the great leaders of this or any generation. But it wasn’t always so for what we now call “the Rainbow Nation” and its iconic former President.
This expedition to South Africa will examine the legacy of four hundred years of European contact and settlement. We will use the life and career of Nelson Mandela as the vehicle for this exploration. Born while the Great War raged in Europe, Asia and Africa, and seeing 95 summers, Mandela’s life offers an unparalleled opportunity to see South Africa’s history, culture, tragedies and triumphs over the great length of the 20th century.
We will begin the journey in Johannesburg where we will linkup at a hotel near the OR Tambo International Airport. The following day we will start at the acclaimed and extremely moving Apartheid Museum to set the stage for the remainder of our visits and discussions throughout the country. We will begin our examinations of two periods of Madiba’s life in the region. First, as a revolutionary and lawyer in the 1940s-1964. Places like Sharpeville, where labor unrest and the murders of many black African miners in 1960 stoked international dismay toward the apartheid regime. Like Soweto, where black Africans have long lived in the shadow of their oppressors and where today middle-class neighborhoods stand beside shantytowns. The center of the African consciousness and rebellion stemmed from Soweto. Mandela’s house, and those of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others, still remain in this vibrant city-within-a-city. We will visit the law offices and the government buildings where Mandela fought for human rights, and where he served as the President of a newly united Republic and as a respected senior statesman.
The magnificent Western Cape province provides backdrop to our further discussions of Mandela and South Africa’s challenges and opportunities. Here we will visit the District Six museum that tells the story of the black and colored Africans who were removed from their fairly prosperous city center homes into shantytowns during the course of the previous century. We will also visit the sites of two of Mandela’s prisons, he spent 26 consecutive years behind bars – on the infamous Robben Island (where a former internee will provide our guided talk and walk) and the Victor Verster maximum security prison where he lived in the years prior to his 1990 release. We will also visit the famed Table Mountain and drive the Cape of Good Hope route along False Bay and back through the incredible Chapman Peak Drive. A visit to Cape Town University, one of the Top 100 in the world and Africa’s finest, for a discussion of the legacy of Cecil Rhodes and others, along with a view toward the future.
A short drive from Cape Town will bring us into South Africa’s famed winelands, where we will spend two evenings in the charming colonial and university town of Stellenbosch. A tour of the vineyards will provide a welcome ending.
Throughout this journey we will have extensive discussions on South African culture and history, its challenges and opportunities. The country’s rich military history, so fundamental to the shaping of the nation from its Cape roots on through the Great Trek of the 1830s and then its later wars between Zulu, British and Afrikaaners, will provide numerous points along the way to examine the nation at that point in time.
We will enjoy amazing food and drink, in spectacularly beautiful settings. We will interact with locals of all persuasions. If possible, we will attend a match – rugby, football or cricket – in this sports-mad country.
South Africa and Nelson Mandela. A trip of a lifetime to learn of the peoples and the places that shape the future of the continent.