Nelson Mandela Bay’s unique and beautiful tribute to Madiba
Nelson Mandela Bay has a number of sites honouring the Eastern Cape’s most famous son, but one, in particular, made me feel that the city has done Madiba’s name and legacy proud.
A walking tour called Route 67 consists of 67 permanent public art installations symbolising Mandela’s 67 years of service to the anti-apartheid movement and the building of a democratic South Africa. Peppered with quotes from Mandela which serve as wayfinding markers and monuments to the Struggle, Route 67 is a must-see for every visitor to the city.
From the Campanile Monument in the heart of the CBD, Route 67 ducks flyovers and even climbs a beautiful staircase – which has its own inspiring story – to the Vuyisile Mini Square which is located at the geographic centre of the city. If you have time, do tour the Campanile; there is a special surprise on the 67th step.
The Conversations with the Queen collection features Struggle icons Nelson Mandela, Goven Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba in conversation with the Queen while their comrades Robert Sobukhwe and Steve Biko observe.
The Walk of Words sees value words in different languages flowing beneath your feet to represent the New South Africa and its prosperity.
The artwork on the wall of the staircase at St Mary’s Cathedral evokes the pain of one of apartheid-era South Africa’s worst massacres and is a fitting lead in to the Mosaic Stairs, where your journey starts in darkness and ends with a spectacular new dawn, symbolising the new hope of post-apartheid South Africa.
From here the journey continues along the old streets of the city past numerous art galleries and parks. It culminates at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. If you haven’t already guessed, the city is a mecca for art lovers and there are tons of other cultural and heritage points of interest which you can spend days exploring.
You can also follow Route 67 further, through Uitenhage, South End and The Red Location Precinct, but be warned, you are going to need a whole day to do this because there is just so much to see. My only regret about doing this tour? Not taking enough pictures and definitely not setting aside enough time to linger at each spot! If ever I get invited back to Nelson Mandela Bay I am definitely doing Route 67 again.
By IOL News South Africa